Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams
Libby and her Grampa are best friends.
His company fills up her twelve year old heart to the brim with love and happiness.
Sadly, when Grampa passes on, Libby’s Daddy, Earl, shuts himself away leaving her physically and emotionally alone.
Until the clock strikes 2:35 am.
Grampa appears in Libby’s bedroom to comfort her and remind her of his last words.
Grampa left something in the lake for her.
After he promises to return the following night, and never be far from her side, Libby ventures to the lake on her family’s property determined to find Grampa’s treasure before school starts. With the help of her friend Bobby and Grampa, Libby realizes that Grampa’s final gift may not be what she expected, but
it is something that can set her family free.
Loss comes in varied forms.
Earl is so afraid of all that is lost when a dear one passes that he shuts down and refuses happiness…even from his own daughter.
On the contrary, despite her youth, Libby embraces the memories she shared with her Grampa and wears her loss on her sleeves. It’s something that she picks at and the frayed ends cause her understandable pain. Yet, despite how a part of her life unraveled, Libby chooses to focus on remembering and honoring the memory of her Grampa; and that begins with solving the mystery of what exactly Grampa left her in the lake.
Belief is hard to come by.
In a world where most people follow the motto “seeing is believing,” it’s difficult to accept things without proof. For this reason, Libby’s friend, Martha, and Earl dismiss Libby’s claims of talking with Grampa as a figment of imagination or ‘crazy’ talk. Those who truly believe are able to see things that cannot often be explained with logic or backed up with proof.
With this in mind, Williams expands on how Libby is able to communicate with her Grampa, and those who have departed, because she has the Sight. Williams describes Sight as a gift passed down from generation to generation. However, by the end of Never That Far, readers see that the true power of Sight lies in belief.
One element that I really liked reading about in Never That Far was the way in which Williams explored the topic of Sight as something that does not necessarily pertain to ‘what lies beyond.’ The power of Sight is shown in the way that Bobby believed in Libby’s story and helped her solve the mystery, like a true friend, or reflected in the process of accepting pain where characters, like Earl, can reaffirming belief in life, happiness, and familiar love.
Carol Lynch Williams writes Never That Far in a lovely style similar to Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia and Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie. These three works have a very special attribute in common. They are works directed, and written, for children and young readers, yet the stories have such depth and meaning that reaches readers of all ages. Rather than focusing on loss and grief, Carol Lynch Williams harnesses the power of love in Never That Far and how a person’s passing can actually bring you closer to them through all the beautiful memories shared together.
This is a very gentle read that covers a wide array of subjects for young readers to: see pain and feel love, experience loss and embrace happiness, and ultimately remember that all those we care for and love are
Never That Far.
Thank you so much for reading.
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