Life and Death are Never That Far in Carol Williams’ New Novel

Life and Death are “Never That Far” in Carol Williams’ New Novel

Never That Far Summary

Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams

Libby Lochewood is twelve years old when her grampa dies of a heart attack. She is devastated at losing her best friend. Now that he’s passed on, it’s just her and her father. And he is so overcome by grief that he can barely get out of the bed in the morning.

The night of the funeral, though, Grampa’s spirit appears in Libby’s bedroom and tells her three important things: first, that she isn’t alone or forgotten—“The dead ain’t never that far from the living,” he says; second, that she has “the Sight”—the ability to see family members who have died; and three, that there is something special just for her in the lake. Something that could help her and her father—if she can find it.

Libby begins her search along with her friends Bobby and Martha. It’s hard to know if they’ve found what Grampa wanted her to find, though, since they don’t really know what it is. As Libby’s father falls deeper and deeper into depression, Libby and Grampa work together to help her father believe that their loved ones who had died are much closer than he thinks. But it will take all of Libby’s courage and her gift of Sight to convince her father that the dead are never truly gone.

Set in lush, rural landscape of southern Florida, Never That Far, celebrates friendship, hope, and the power of family love.

Never That Far Review

The death of a grandparent is always hard. And maybe even harder when your grandfather is your best friend. Never That Far is the story of Libby’s (and her widowed father’s) journey through grief, written from the point of view of 12-year-old Libby.  The story is set in 1960’s small-town Florida. Author Carol Lynch Williams has done an excellent job of capturing the language and feel of that era. In some ways reminded me of The Yearling, which I have not read since childhood, so I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is.

The story is a little bit of a puzzle, and you have to come along for the ride. Following Libby through trying to determine what the treasure might be and where and how she will find it is much of the story. It’s kind of like life in that the story isn’t neat and tidy, but has some ups and downs. Libby has to deal with multiple conflicts, and the challenge of reconnecting with her father who is not only grieving the loss of his father, but still grieving the prior loss of Libby’s mother. It’s a lot to manage when you’re 12, and the author captures that conflict well.

One of the things I liked was that I never figured out the ending before I got there. I like books that don’t have obvious endings. I think they are more interesting that way.

This is a good book to read with your middle-grade readers who may be struggling with loss and change in their lives. It would also appeal to readers who enjoy books where the focus is on characters and story rather than action.

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Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams is available at

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