It Wasn't Always Like This
In 1916, Emma O’Neill is frozen in time. After sampling an experimental polio vaccine brewed on a remote island off St. Augustine, Florida, she and her family stop aging - as do the Ryans, her family’s business partners. In a way, this suits Emma fine because she’s in love with Charlie Ryan. Being seventeen forever with him is a dream. But soon a group of religious fanatics, the Church of Light, takes note. Drinking the elixir has made the O’Neills and Ryans impervious to aging, but not to murder. When their families are massacred, Emma and Charlie are the only ones who escape with their lives.
On the run, Emma is tragically separated from Charlie. For the next hundred years, she plays a cat-and-mouse game with the Church of Light and their descendants. She becomes a private investigator when a series of murders - whose victims all bear more than a passing resemblance to her - indicate that her enemies are closing in. Yet as the danger grows, so does Emma’s hope for finding the boy she’s certain is still out there...
Part thriller, part murder mystery, part fairy tale in the vein of Tuck Everlasting comes a story of accidental immortality, star-crossed romance, and a forever-seventeen-year-old girl who won't give up the search for the boy she loves.
What the Critics are Saying:
"Epic and addictive - a story with the soul of a romance and the pacing of a thriller."
- Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures
"Not since Veronica Mars has there been such a wry and captivating teen detective. This wonderful novel is fun, romantic, and impossible to put down. Joy Preble has crafted a mesmerizing story that will thrill you while it melts your heart."
- Margo Rabb, bestselling author of Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak
"A high-speed love story with an electric mystery at its center. Immortality hasn't been this haunting, romantic, and thrilling in a long time."
- Adam Silvera, New York Times bestselling author of More Happy Than Not
"Preble adeptly weaves together snippets of Emma's past and present, gradually outlining her transformation from an optimistic, winsome teen to a hardened, lone-wolf type, albeit one whose heart still flutters for a certain eternal boy... [readers] will be equally charmed by Emma's noir-inflected narrative and her decades-long romance."
"A captivating plot with some twists, an aura of time travel, and an array of vivid settings... [Readers] who relished the classic Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt will revel in this tale."
- School Library Journal
"[Captures] the loneliness, isolation, and even regret that accompanies the secrecy required by eternal youth... A modern Tuck Everlasting with a thriller twist."
- Kirkus Reviews
"With its exciting plot and well-wrought characters, this novel emerges as a suspenseful treat with a gooey romantic center. The narrative alternates between scenes of Emma's distant past with Charlie and her murder-mystery present, building to a final showdown that is both surprising and satisfying."
- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Read an excerpt of the novel + E. Lockhart interviews Joy Preble in Entertainment Weekly!
Hardcover published May 2016
Barnes & Noble