Sisters of the Neversea has me thinking – as all good books do. Its reviews caught my attention because I like the Peter Pan story. I know the Disney version – the play version – the versions shared by countless movie remakes, and the version shared in Peter and the Starcatchers series with their deliciously vile villains. In writing this review I have to confess, I’ve not read the 1904 original by J.M. Barrie. My grandparent’s copy sits on my bookshelf and I wonder, I should give it a try… maybe – original tale…maybe not – outdated language and world views…I’ll see. Here’s why I might wait. Cynthia Leitich Smith has combined iconic bits from the popular story in ways that made me question and think about how stories and books grow and encourage understanding and empathy.
Sister of the Neversea begins as the blended Roberts-Darling family celebrate a family milestone. Mom, John and Lily are Muscogee Creek from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dad and Wendy have joined them from London, England, and the family has been further blended when younger brother, Michael, was born. Lily and Wendy are step-sisters AND best friends. They adore their younger brother – but unsettling changes have come to their family.
John is celebrating his graduation from high school. He has college plans for the upcoming school year. A new job has dad and Wendy moving to New York City. This leaves Wendy and Lily only one day to worry about the fate of their sisterhood and their family. Before they have a chance to talk about what is happening and how they actually feel, a flying boy in search of a storyteller, a fairy – tasked with keeping Peter Pan content and Neverland safe, and a rouge shadow, uncomfortable with its origins behavior enter their bedroom.
Cynthia Leitich Smith has created a complex, contemporary Peter Pan tale. What does being an Indigenous member of our society? How can we, as non-Indigenous members of society show respect and care for all people? Readers can explore ideas about family, stereotypes, identity, environment, social justice and personal responsibility. You can ponder these ideas and/or you can enjoy another great Peter Pan inspired adventure. How do the choices you make effect the world?