Book Review: ‘Never Look Back’ delivers haunting romance


Erica Deutsch

“Never Look Back’ by Lilliam Rivera, published in 2020, combines otherworldly realism and trauma into a story celebrating culture and the strength of a first love. “I enjoyed reading this book because it was different, yet captivating,” sophomore and reporter Erica Deutsch said. “As soon as I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.”

In the novel written by Lilliam Rivera, “Never Look Back,” Eury, a girl from Puerto Rico, and Pheus, a boy from the Bronx, find powerful love, unexpectedly, during challenging circumstances. For readers who enjoy unanticipated and out-of-the-ordinary love stories, this will be a book they won’t want to miss.

Anxiety and depression have followed Eury for most of her life, due to past traumatic experiences. Throughout her journey, she has become close to a supernatural spirit that represents her death. Being close to this spirit has caused destruction and hardship in Eury’s life, leading her to constantly hide from it. She visits her family in the Bronx over the summer, with the hope that she will get better and escape the presence of the spirit she fears.

The talented Pheus has grown up in the Bronx his whole life, and has a passion for music. He has also dealt with hardships as a young child. When he and Eury meet for the first time, Pheus feels like he has never met a girl like her. Eury feels instantly connected to Pheus and his music, and they end up falling for each other.

Just as they begin their relationship, the deathly spirit that has been following Eury finds her and threatens to take her life. Pheus tries everything in his power to save Eury, but in the end – Eury ends up saving herself with the help of Pheus and her loved ones. She and Pheus reunite and now that the spirit of her past seems to be far from her reach, she can look ahead to a hopeful future.

While I read this book, I enjoyed that the story went by at a fast pace. Each chapter switches back and forth between the lives of Eury and Pheus. I liked that the chapters were not too long, making this an enjoyable read.

I loved that this book is unpredictable, and is nothing like I have ever read before. There were parts of the story that kept me in suspense, and it was definitely a page-turner. I also enjoyed that this romance story was different and unique from others that I have seen before.

In the beginning, Eury battles anxiety along with post-traumatic stress and starts off in the most difficult state of mind she could ever be in. I love that this book incorporates the value and blessing of knowing that no matter how lonely you feel, there will always be loved ones by your side in the midst of a crisis – or really anything that you are going through in life. Throughout the course of the book, Eury finds people and slowly begins to trust them to seek help for her situation. The love and support she received from those close to her, along with her faith, ultimately allowed her to be able to overcome her tragedy.

Another aspect of this book I enjoyed was how Eury and Pheus are such different people and have grown up in very different situations; but their shared love of music, and Pheus’ willingness to do anything it takes to be there for Eury, makes their relationship beautiful.

The last unique element that really grabbed my attention was the culture present throughout the entire book. This provides a unique element to the story that recognizes and celebrates Latin American ways and traditions.