Book Review: 100 Days of Sunlight

100 Days of Sunlight – Abbie Emmons – Published 7 August 2019

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Synopsis

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.

My thoughts

What if you couldn’t see? What if someone couldn’t see you? Does it change how you judge people, judge the world? 100 Days of Starlight is a teenage love story, but it is also a story about resilience and learning to get back up when knocked down by life.

A car crash leaves Tessa temporarily blind. Now Tessa refuses to write her poetry or leave the house, so her grandparents place an ad for a helper. Weston sees the ad at his father’s paper just before it’s pulled from publication and decides Tessa is someone he can help. As a double amputee, the idea of someone getting to know him without seeing him is very appealing. At first reluctant to work with Weston, Tessa pushes him away in every way she can, but he doesn’t give up – determined to show her that life is about more than what she can see. Continue reading

Book Review: The Arrival of Someday

The Arrival of Someday – Jen Malone – HarperTeen – Published 23 July 2019

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Synopsis

Hard-charging and irrepressible eighteen-year-old Amelia Linehan could see a roller derby opponent a mile away—and that’s while crouched down, bent over skates, and zooming around a track at the speed of light. They don’t call her Rolldemort for nothing! What she couldn’t see coming, however, was the unexpected flare-up of a rare liver disorder she was born with. But now it’s the only thing she—and everyone around her—can think about.

With no guarantee of a viable organ transplant, everything Amelia’s been sure of—like her college plans, the mural she’d been commissioned to paint, or the possibility of one day falling in love—has become a huge question mark, threatening to drag her down into a sea of what-ifs she’s desperate to avoid.

Then a friend from the past shows up. With Will, it’s easy to forget about what’s lurking underneath the lightness of their time together. It’s easy to feel alive when all signs point elsewhere. On the other hand, with the odds decidedly not in her favor, Amelia knows this feeling couldn’t last forever. But what can?

My thoughts

I love books that make me cry. I also love books that can make me smile. And The Arrival of Someday had me doing both. I often call books uplifting. The Arrival of Someday goes past uplifting (though, that fits too) and is totally inspiring. It is surprising (that ending literally come out of nowhere and smacked me across the face), it is fun (simply a pleasure to sit down with and enjoy), and it combines everything I love about really good YA contemporary fiction – family, friendship and self-realisation.

Lia loves a good cause. Raising awareness, taking on the school board, even a good rally. She also loves roller derby and it’s for good reason they call her Rolldemort. With early entry into her college of choice, a mural competition awarded and awaiting completion and her best friend Sibby by her side, Lia’s life is good. Until she discovers that her liver disease, something she has had all her life, worsens and leaves Lia needing a liver transplant – and soon. Lia must navigate the transplant waiting list while trying to decide how she feels about putting some things in her life on hold and sorting out her family and friends’ reactions to her diagnosis.

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Book Review: The Memory Book

Memory Bok

The Memory Book – Lara Avery – Poppy – Published 5 July 2016

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Synopsis

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

My thoughts

The Memory Book is an incredibly sad and touching story of a girl’s determination to hold onto her future and her memories. Family, friendship, romance and self discovery in the midst of loosing yourself.

Sammie has been diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C, a long and complicated word that means Sammie will slowly lose her memories. In an attempt to hold onto herself she creates a memory book to record all the important things her future self will need to know to continue her life and move on to college.

This whole book is written as journal entries in Sammie’s memory book. But these are no ordinary teen girl diary entries, instead they are fun, touching and confronting retellings of various events, important things she thinks her future self should know. Some entries are simple reminders. Some are written by other characters. Some are letters to others, and some are clear retellings, as if we are right there as it happened.

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Book Review: The Loose Ends List

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The Loose Ends List – Carrie Firestone- Little Brown Books for Young Readers -Published 7 June 2016

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Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie’s closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie’s plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret “death with dignity” cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way – and give the O’Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness. 

My thoughts

The Loose Ends List is unlike any other book I’ve ever read. It is hilarious, frank, crude, beautiful, honest and so emotional. I know that from reading the summary you can gather that you will need tissues, but seriously. Pack tissues!

Maddie’s family is slightly crazy. They are passionate, fight lots, openly talk about sex and drugs, and swear like troopers. And Maddie’s grandmother is the craziest of the lot. She is Maddie’s favourite person, her confidant and idol. So the news that Grandma Astrid is dying and has booked the whole family on a death with dignity cruise hits them all, especially Maddie, really hard.

The writing in this book is fabulous. The story is crafted to draw you in, shock you and ultimately trap you within its web before you even know you are caught. This book not only discusses dying but euthanasia. This controversial topic is handled with humour and heart. Readers are presented with the argument for euthanasia through the view of the sick and dying, through those looking for dignity in their death, but we also see it through the view of the family who may not be ready to let go (though it’s interesting that no one raises any arguments against euthanasia). These themes and the level of coarse language and sexual content make this a book for mature readers (to the point that some readers may find the extensive sex jokes and references offensive), but it remains a very topical book.     Continue reading