Never Ending by Martyn Bedford
Shiv is unable to live with her brother Declan’s death, particularly her own role in it. So she is sent to the Korsakoff Clinic where she hopes to be cured and be able to continue her life. Unable to see past her own guilt and loss, Shiv finds herself in an unusual clinic where she is first forced to focus on her brother and then forced to look directly at his death without turning away. She is joined in the clinic by several other teens who all lost people in different ways but all feel as responsible and guilty as Shiv does. As they are forced to see the truth of their loss, all of them react in different ways. When hope is highest though, the ground falls out below Shiv and she must figure out that saving someone else may be the answer to saving herself.
Bedford has created a very compelling read. He slowly reveals Shiv’s life before Declan’s death. Along the way, readers get to know Shiv and Declan and their warm and loving parents. They see directly what grief and loss do to people and the way their relationships are torn asunder. They also see how hard it is to return to life after such a loss. Bedford maintains a large level of complexity throughout the novel, moving into flashbacks and also showing Declan as a human rather than a lost angel. The relationship between the siblings is good until a gorgeous young man enters their lives and creates waves for both of them.
As the flashbacks to Declan’s final days continue, the tension in the book mounts. The pressure is also building in Shiv’s recovery as she starts to recover and then suffers setbacks. There are no easy answers here. Declan’s life as well as Shiv’s are complex. The therapy she undergoes is unusual but it is up to Shiv to really do the work of recovery.
Beautifully written and structured, this novel of recovery, pain and guilt weaves a mesmerizing web for the reader who is never quite sure how things are going to end. Appropriate for ages 15-17.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.