Firstly, I was googling the name meanings for the Everlost characters. After discovering Travis stems from traverse or to cross, I wanted to see what other gems I could find, if any. I was not disappointed, as Nick or Nicholas is largely popular as a result of Saint Nicholas, some 4th century dude who is now revered as the patron saint of children as well as being the historical figure for the inspiration of Santa Claus. What a great partner to Mother Mary!
In a similar vein, this expedition lead me to the knowledge that Johnnie-O is the name of a clothing brand for men. Their clothes, however, are ridiculously priced. I'm not exactly sure what warrants $125 for a sweater, but apparently some poor chap is paying the price, or they wouldn't be asking for it. I'm not really sure where Johnnie-O could've come from. Maybe it's some sort of play on the turkey brand Jennie-O? Idk. When I googled Jennie-O big hands, this amusing ad came up. It hardly confirms my theory, as it has nothing to do with hands, but it's still amusing nonetheless.
Lastly, in my rereading I honed in more seriously on what Nick said in Chapter 4: A Coin on its Edge in Everlost.
“Either we stay here, or we get eaten by the McGill,” said Lief. “That’s why I’m staying here.”
“What if there’s another choice?” said Nick. “If we’re not alive, but we’re not quite dead, then maybe …” He pulled a coin out of his pocket— one of the few things that had come with him, along with those overly formal clothes he wore. “Maybe we’re like coins standing on their edge?”
Allie considered this. “Meaning?”
“Meaning, we might be able to shake things up a little, and find a way to come up heads.”
“Or tails,” suggested Allie.
“What are you talking about?” said Lief.
“Life and death.” Nick flipped the coin, and slapped it down on the back of his palm, keeping it covered with his other hand, so none of them could see how it had landed. “Maybe— just maybe— we can find a way out of here. A way into the light at the end of the tunnel … or maybe even a path back to life.”
It seemed the trees themselves held the thought, sifting it through their boughs, giving it resonance.
Shusterman, Neal. Everlost (The Skinjacker Trilogy Book 1) (pp. 36-37). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition.
I never noticed this before, but it would appear that a more explicit link is being made here between Afterlights and coins. They sit in that place between life and death, or to use a later coin image: between hot and cold. The coins are a representation of the state that Afterlights have been preserved in. They are bound to their interlife, incapable of being either heads or tails. Afterlights can always have a coin appear for them because the coins are a part of them, an externalization of their metaphysical state.
I also think it's very fitting that Nick proposes this theory. It's definitely foreshadowing things to come. It makes me wonder: what was Shusterman's initial vision for Nick's future role? Did he know at this point in time that Nick would become the new Mary? I suppose that's another question I could ask, should I ever get the opportunity to meet him.