It's the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river.
Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they'll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars, but could that actually be true? This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and to ensure success in their mission, they've made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.
The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn't long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben and (much to Ben's disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn't seem to fit in.
Together, Nathaniel and Ben will travel farther than anyone has ever gone, down a winding road full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship*.
*And a talking bear.
Select praise for THIS WAS OUR PACT:
Booklist starred review: "Richly imagined and complexly emotional... [This was Our Pact] may owe some of its eerie melancholy and occasionally menacing absurdity to the likes of Lewis Carroll and Shaun Tan, but its message is distinctly its own: what you imagine to be the end of the journey may be satisfying, but the adventure actually goes on as long as you keep riding down the road."
Kirkus starred review: "Marvelously melancholic, earnest... Brilliantly enchanting."
New York Times review: "An original and much-needed view of the complex world of middle-school friendships."
Publishers Weekly starred review: "Andrews crafts a phantasmagoria of events that recall animation from Studio Ghibli and Cartoon Saloon...picaresque episodes and a dreamlike resolution conjure a giddy sensation, like staying up all night. "
School Library Journal starred review: "For readers who want an escapist fantasy with a light touch. Hand this title to fans of whimsical or unpredictable adventures such as Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk or Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time."