Dani Deane feels like the universe has imploded when her father dies. Days after his death, she sees him leafing through sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, wandering his own wake. Is grief making her crazy? Or is her dad adrift between this world and the next, trying to contact her?
Dani longs for his help as she tries and fails to connect with her workaholic mother. Her pain only deepens when astonishing secrets about her family history come to light. But Dani finds a surprising ally in Theo, the quiet guy lingering in the backstage of her life. He persistently reaches out as Dani’s faith falters, her family relationships unravel, and she withdraws into a dangerous obsession with her father’s ghostly appearances. Will she let her broken, prodigal heart find reason to hope again?
“It was beautifully written–the language and pacing flowed beautifully. The grief and loss that Dani experienced were so realistic and deftly shown that I felt as if I were experiencing it with her. And because the story was so grounded, I was wonderfully surprised by the metaphors–you don’t often find such symbolic meaning in young adult fiction.”
Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend.
But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save.
Why would God block all paths to Paris? Could real hope for healing be as close as a box tucked in the rafters?
“A fantastic novel about finding true happiness, about forgiveness, about sacrifice, and about dealing with difficult, real-life situations.”
“Almost There made me fall in love with the YA genre all over again. This is the kind of teen fiction I enjoy: An authentic and inspirational novel that accurately portrays the teen life. Throw in a romance thread, family drama, teen angst, beautiful wordsmithing, an artistic element, and weave them together to create an original, page-turning-worthy plot.”
Author note: In the case of Never Gone, few years after losing my own father (as a married adult with a toddler), I wanted to work through my lingering grief. But I knew if I tried to write directly about my experience, I’d have trouble keeping the emotional distance I needed to really shape the story and might become too clinical and detached or sentimental and maudlin. So I filtered my experiences through another character’s very different circumstances that might make grieving more of a pressure cooker—like being left with the parent you’re alienated from and having a family culture that frowns on expressing negative emotions. I’ve also always been fascinated with the idea of a parental presence lingering to help a child, especially when it’s unclear why it’s happening (is it supernatural or psychological?). For Almost There, learning my family’s stories during my teen years inspired me to write about how difficult relatives (like Dani’s cranky grandfather) often have a story behind how they’ve become that way. Learn the story, and you can begin to move toward that person with more understanding and love.