rating: 4 of 5 stars
This sat on my shelf for ages because I suspected it would be a tough read. A teen with cystic fibrosis? But I was pleasantly surprised, because rather than taking advantage of every opportunity to wring a tear from his readers’ eyes, Halpin treats the majority of the book as a smart, thoughtful YA story. Sure, Brianna spends time thinking about her own mortality and her illness, her role as a mentor to a younger girl with CF, and her own mentor who recently died – but it’s also got all those classic high school moments, which serve to emphasize how Brianna’s life is different without turning the whole thing into a pity party. Then there’s her love of math, and the fascinating conversations she gets into with her math teacher – they don’t require remembering anything you learned in high school, and my eyes didn’t glaze over from the geekdom, but the story doesn’t shy away from the fact that Bri is looking forward to going to MIT and being surrounded by math nerds. And this is really an important part of the story, not just a fact about Bri to make her seem unique. AND it didn’t make me cry until right at the end, which I appreciated.
It’s a quick, easy read without sacrificing any thoughtfulness – recommended to teens who like realistic stories.
One mild spoiler – I couldn’t help but wonder what the story would’ve been like if it cut off before her death, leaving the reader knowing that she’ll die before too long, but without actually writing the death scene. I don’t think it would’ve made the story any less sad, and I’m not saying that a death scene is easy to write, but it would be refreshing to read an illness story that doesn’t actually end with the death (or maybe I’ve just read too many books like this). Regardless, I think it’s a great example of the genre.