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BOOKS: Death of a sibling explored in haunting book

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A family vacation in Greece. A horrible accident. And it's all Shiv's fault. Her younger brother is dead because she killed him.

"Never Ending," by Martyn Bedford, is the non-linear, two-part story of 15-year-old Shiv.

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One part of the story begins in Greece.

Shiv, her parents and her 12-year-old brother, Declan, vacation at a beautiful villa with a swimming pool overlooking the blue-green waters of a bay. On the third day, they take a half-day cruise, led by Nikos, a handsome 19-year-old student.

The attraction between Shiv and Nikos is immediate. Shiv lies, telling him she is 17. Nikos is kind, including Declan in their outings, even rescuing him from a riptide while windsailing.

But as the romance continues, Shiv finds herself stepping into deeper water, including an event that leads to Declan's death.

Interwoven with this story is Shiv's inpatient therapy. Following the death, she joins five other teens at an unconventional inpatient facility. All of them suffer from traumatic bereavement, delusions, and the certainty that they are directly responsible for the death of their loved ones.

On the first night, a photograph of Declan is projected onto Shiv's bedroom wall. As the therapy continuers, the projections began to recreate the scenes of his death. By reliving the details, Shiv begins to discern what really happened.

Although the explanations of the therapy occasionally get heavy, author Martyn Bedford uses the two storylines to pull readers forward. Not until the very end of the book do readers discover the details of Declan's death.

Bedford also includes a subplot about Mikey, a patient who believes he is responsible for the death of his sister. As Shiv's life intersects with his, she begins to learn why she must keep on living.

Bedford does not indicate if this therapy is based on actual practice. Nor do we get a clear-cut picture of where Shiv's life is headed. However, we get the feeling that Shiv will survive the final phase of her therapy -- life without Declan.

"Never Ending." By Martyn Bedford. Random House-Wendy Lamb Books, 2014. 304 pp.

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