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Neverwas2014

2014 hardback edition.

Neverwas is the second installment in the Amber House Trilogy by American author Kelly Moore and her daughters Tucker Reed and Larkin Reed.  The novel will be released by Scholastic's Arthur A. Levine Books imprint on January 7, 2014.  The book features an alternate history timeline and is categorized into the supernatural thriller and dystopian genres.

PremiseEdit

"'I was sixteen the second time I had my first kiss."

Picking up three months after Amber House left off, Sarah and her family relocate from the Pacific Northwest to live at Amber House with her aunt Maggie.  Unbeknownst to Sarah, her actions at the end of Amber House propelled her and her loved ones into an alternate timeline:  North America is a collection of separate nations, including the American Confederation of States, which still struggles with segregation and sexism, and Nazis control Europe.  Sarah must use her ability to see "echoes" of the past in order to remember the way things used to be, and with the help of Jackson's precognition, attempt to reset the universe once again.

CharactersEdit

The Parson Family

  • Sarah Parsons is the narrator of the series.  She is sixteen at the start of the novel, and has never been kissed.  While at Amber House, she finds she has the family "gift" for seeing vision or "echoes" from the past.  Sarah also has the inexplicable ability to find her best friend Jackson, no matter where he is.  She is somewhat bitter with her parents for choosing to move the family from Seattle (located in the free nation of the Pacific Northwest) to the American Confederation of States, where she knows her brother Sammy will grow up exposed to the racism and sexism rampant in the dystopian South.
  • Sammy Parsons is six years old and autistic.  He has an incredibly close connection to his aunt Maggie.
  • Anne Parsons (née McGuinness) is a famous painter.  She is described by Sarah as "overprotective," and is especially protective of her sister Maggie.  Upon her mother's death, Anne uses the considerable fortune she inherits to advocate for change in the Confederation.
  • Tom Parsons is a surgeon at Johns Hopkins.  He is a "Northie" from the nation of New England.  He supports Anne's political activism.
  • Margaret "Maggie" McGuinness is the autistic older sister of Anne Parsons.  As the oldest daughter, Maggie inherited the estate when her mother passed away, per family tradition.  She shares the House with Anne, Tom, Sammy and Sarah.  Like Sarah, she also has the ability to see the "echoes."  When using her gift as a child, she fell from a tree in the yard, and subsequently suffered a temporary coma.

The Echoes

  • Ida Warren McGuinness is Sarah's late grandmother. After Maggie's fall from the tree, Ida forbade Maggie from using her ability.
  • Fiona Campbell Warren (née Webster) is Sarah's great-grandmother. Fiona was committed to a psychiatric ward at Johns Hopkins for a period of time due to her obsession with tracking down a distant relative.
  • Maeve McCallister is Sarah's great-great-great-grandmother.  Maeve was considered an old maid, and used Amber House and its secret passages to harbor people in the Underground Railroad.  Maeve nursed and befriended a pregnant conductor, Della, when the woman was wounded leading a party north.  Maeve extensively documented her experience using the newly-introduced daguerreotype photography process.
  • Sarah-Louise Foste is Sarah's distant ancestor, who lived in the House in the 1770s.  An early entomologist, Sarah-Louise extensively studied Amber House's local arachnid, the deadly Good Mother spider.  Sarah-Louise was the only surviving child of Captain Joseph Foster and Deirdre Dobson Foster.
  • Camilla Foster is Sarah-Louise's older half-sister.  She is described as blonde and blue-eyed.
  • Captain Joseph Foster is Sarah's great-grandfather seven generations removed.  A sailor in the Royal Navy, he fled England after eloping with a nobleman's daughter.  To provide for his new wife, Foster was a smuggler before partnering with Deirdre's father, Captain Dobson.  Foster married Deirdre after his first wife died giving birth to their daughter, Camilla.
  • Deirdre Dobson Foster is Sarah's great-grandmother, who lived at Amber House in the 1770s.  Deirdre was abused by her husband, and often locked away in her bedroom or in the attic.
  • Nyangu is a slave purchased by Captain Dobson at Deirdre's insistence, when it was clear Nyangu would die if left under the care of the slaver who kidnapped her from her native Africa.  Nyangu and Deirdre formed a lifelong bond of friendship.  Nyangu had the ability to see glimpses of the future; this ability was passed on to her descendant, Jackson Harris.

The Neighbors

  • Jackson Harris lives in a cottage adjacent to Amber House's property with his grandmother Rose.  As a toddler, he was orphaned in a car accident that badly burned him, scarring his arm, torso and neck, as well as triggering epilepsy.  He was taken in by his grandparents, and knew Sarah from an early age.  The two became best friends.  Because of his epilepsy and the poverty and social stigma he faces as a black citizen in the ACS, he will likely never achieve his dream of becoming a surgeon.  However, he is precognitive, and believes that with Sarah's help, they can alter history, not only erasing the Confederation, but also preventing the car accident that killed his parents.
  • Richard Hathaway is the son of family friend Senator Robert Hathaway.  The Hathaways are close with Anne's family, and Sarah grew up with a crush on Richard.  Since her grandmother's funeral, she hasn't been able to figure out why she is no longer attracted to Richard, despite his palpable interest in her.
  • Robert Hathaway is an ACS senator on the brink of announcing his candidacy for the Presidency.
  • Claire Hathaway is Richard's mysterious mother.  Camilla's father owned the red brick mansion bordering the Amber House estate.  She reveals to Sarah that she is the descendant of Camilla Foster, meaning Sarah and Richard are distant cousins.
  • Rose Valois is Jackson's grandmother.  Rose is the cook and housekeeper at Amber House.

Critical receptionEdit

Kirkus was the first to review the second novel in the trilogy.  Deeming it "a stark departure" from the preceding novel, Kirkus found the "authors' vision of this alternate, broken United States" to be "inconceivably frightening."

Fun facts Edit

Il-passato-di-Amber-House
Some interesting facts about the second book include:
  • The Italian edition is titled Il Passato di Amber House (roughly, "The Past of Amber House") and features a much blonder Sarah in a pink cloak and dress. The order of the names of sisters Tucker and Larkin is swapped.
  • The color of Sarah's hair is lighter on the US edition as well. The depicted length conflicts with Sarah's stated preference for shorter hair in this timeline.
  • Even though the second book takes place mere weeks after the second book (which ended in late October), Sammy is six in Neverwas instead of five like in Amber House. This is because his birthday occurs in November.
  • The fashions described in the book are reminiscent of those in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s; Sarah describes women wearing girdles and pillbox hats.
  • Sarah's birthmark in Neverwas is in the exact spot she was poisoned by the Good Mother spider in Amber House.

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