It Wasn’t Always Like This

Joy Preble. Soho Teen, $18.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61695-588-5
Immortality with the boy you love sounds dreamy, but it’s a nightmare in Preble’s (Finding Paris) intriguing if overplotted thriller. It’s 1913, and 17-year-olds Emma O’Neill and Charlie Ryan have been in love for years. Their happiness evaporates when a strange man persuades their families to drink his homebrewed anti-polio potion; while it wards off polio, it also prevents them from aging. After tragedy strikes, Emma and Charlie flee Florida to avoid the evangelical Church of Light, whose members believe that their immortality is a sign of the devil. In a move meant to be noble but that instead paints him as deeply unsympathetic, Charlie parts ways with Emma. In the present day, Emma becomes a private investigator, determined to find her lost love and the church members who are killing teenage girls in an attempt to draw her out. Preble’s memorable characters and unusual take on being forever young are mired in a tangle of unneeded story lines, including Charlie’s stint as a war pilot and the church’s dubious scheme to find Emma. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/08/2016
Release date: 05/17/2016
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-61695-777-3
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