Peter Lambert isn’t sure what year his father died, 1975 or 1976, or his exact age when it happened, only that he is ten when he goes to live with his mother on Everlasting Lane: “It was all so long ago, how could I ever forget?”
This aura of ambiguity, the “otherness” of his days on Everlasting Lane, suffuse the novel with the mystery of a young boy’s experiences in a new home after a tragic event. Arriving at the cottage on Everlasting Lane with his mother, Peter is struck by the familiarity of the small house and its tidy rooms, with a separate key to unlock each door, three doors. But there is a secret--a mystery--as well: a fourth key to another room, a room where only his mother goes for hours at a time.
No matter. Peter and his mother are playing a game, so maybe the room is a part of the game. Peter is to pretend that his mother is now his aunt, called Kat, a situation that adds to the air of whimsy in this new place and the adventures ahead. And while Peter sometimes feels an outcast, not very comfortable around other people, a chance meeting with Anna-Marie, a
girl a few years older who lives nearby, suddenly makes this new place more interesting. The outspoken Anna-Marie quickly takes charge of their environment and their excursions. Another “misfit” friend is added to the mix, the overweight Tommie.
As the new friendships take root, Peter enters a period of discovery, led by the demanding Anna-Marie.
The characters he meets while traveling Everlasting Lane with his pals expand Peter’s growing comprehension of the world, generating new and unexpected thoughts for a lonely boy who has thus far led a solitary existence. What are a few secrets to such a boy? Even forced to attend school for the first time, with his new friends beside him, Peter views everything through a fresh perspective: “A secret is another word for finding out what’s true, isn’t it?”
Though Everlasting Lane suggests a tale not dissimilar to the Yellow Brick Road of the Land of Oz, the fairy-tale connotation bears more resemblance to young Alice as she falls through the looking glass, meeting strange characters both gruff and jolly as she tumbles from one experience to another, learning the rules of the strange place she now inhabits. New friends, adventures and situations, even confusing ones, have enhanced Peter’s limited vocabulary, words he recognizes as important, perhaps the key to understanding this new life, words heavy with portent like
secrets, true, magic, mystery and most importantly,
It is an unusual, childlike journey salted with moments of stark truth, of mysteries explained, life as viewed from the eyes of a child at a certain age straddling the chasm between knowing and unknowing. A patchwork of events--from a father’s death to the mystery of a secret room and a boy’s unexpected surge of generosity, the desire to comfort a friend, draw the reader quietly into the heart of a novel where both light and darkness abide--inside a stunning revelation.