Four stars for concept, two stars for execution.
I know I’m in the minority here — Most people seem to be wowed by it. My annoyance while reading this may be more the industry’s fault than the writer’s: This is another book that was misrepresented by those trying to sell copies. It was portrayed as a fantasy, a combining of the Neverland of Peter Pan and the after-life experiences of children. This is in there; however, the main thrust of this book is parental grief, longing, and moving on. It’s not a fantasy. It’s not a mystery. It’s not a romp. It’s bibliotherapy. (Again, I cannot blame the author for my misunderstanding of what the book was going to be about.)
The opening scenes are clunky, the children seem much younger than their stated 10 years, and Stilling spends a lot of pages simply re-telling the Peter Pan tale.
Neverland, as Stilling imagines it, reminded me a lot of Spinelli’s Hokey Pokey. Both had that great-idea-but-not-developed-enough feel, and both, (if I’m remembering right), include that concept that any romantic or sexual stirrings mean immediate banishment from childhood. They both also could be read to imply that girls are at fault here. I found that disappointing in stories written in the 21st century.
Still, I could really see this being appealing to readers who are in the mood for some heartstring tugging, or for help with closure following the death of a loved one.