Life threatening cancer brings two teens together in this funny, honest, and heartwrenching novel in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars.
Francis is determined to forge his own way in school and life despite his loony, awkward, broken family...and noticeable lack of friends. Then he is diagnosed with leukemia. It wasn’t part of his strategy, but there are moments when he can see the upside. After all, people are nice to you when you’re sick.
While in the hospital, Francis meets Amber. She’s outspoken and sarcastic, and Francis falls for her almost immediately. Hard. Together, they take on the other cancer ward patients, overbearing mothers, and treatments with lively wit.
But Francis’s recovery is taking a different path from Amber’s. He’s actually getting better. And although he knew who he was before cancer, before Amber, now he has no idea how to live—or how to let go…
Publishes in US: March 10th 2015 by Simon Pulse
Genre: ya contemp (illness/cancer)
Source: Simon Teen via Edelweiss
Buy it: Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound Book Depository
It was a nice surprise though that Francis starts out in the before and I got a good sense of who he was and his family dynamics. Francis is a loner, he only has a handful of friends and likes it that way. He is close to his older brother Chris and I liked that this was a focus. His dad is absent but they have their mom. Francis had a sister that died so their mom is dealing with that grief and holds Francis and Chris at somewhat of a distance, which they figure is because she is afraid to lose another one and deal with all the pain again. But she provides for them and tried to give them a good life. We see her get closer to Francis and Chris as he gets his diagnosis. Its awkward at times, but I love that she is making the effort.
When Francis finds out he has cancer he is not overwhelmed at first. He tests it out and works it and possibility of death around in his head. His mom and Chris deals with their feelings behind closed doors and for a while Francis thinks he wants sine kind of huge breakdown and then when he sees his mom and her heartbreaking sobs with Chris squeezing her tight he feels guilty witnessing it and changes his mind.
The relationship was sweet at times, and unique because of the nature of their meeting. Also, Amber was always bold and quick tongued, a joke for everything. Francis felt understood by her and they had kindred spirits, where usually Francis only talked and hung out with his brother and the occasional friend. It was tough when their illnesses got the best of them and the other was anxious at not hearing from the one sick and then the days where they were the one not returning calls or texts.
The ending is foreshadowed in the beginning, but it didn't take the focus there, The main plot is their learning to live with the cancer they didn't ask for. How they made the best of their good days. They also focused more with their love and relationships. They spend the most time with their family and each other. You realize the importance of unity and being there for the other in family. I enjoyed how close Francis finally got with his mom, and how his bond with his brother is strengthened.
It was sad, but there was also positive moments, funny times, intensity with their relationship, and the bond of family as themes.
Bottom Line: Emotional cancer kids story.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Do you think it would be hard to pick up life after extended illness? What would you do or change?