After his mother forces him to befriend a now terminally ill childhood acquaintance, Rachel, Greg Gaines’ chameleon-like strategy of skating through high school is brought to an end. Through Greg’s relationship with Rachel, his secret film-making hobby is brought to light, and he is talked into attempting to make a movie for “the dying girl”. Thrust into the limelight and faced with a friendship he has no idea how to handle, Greg must confront his inner feelings and stop running from a life he tried so hard to ignore – his own.
If books about leukemia can be funny, this one is it. Of course, the disease is not funny at all, and it’s tough to watch Rachel dealing with her battle. However, Rachel is not the character telling the story. Greg is, and he’s hilarious. Sometimes his humor can get pretty nasty — to some that’s a drawback, but I always found it entertaining. That said, sometimes his self-deprecating humor (like the way he tells you to stop reading his book over and over) becomes over-used and annoying. Also, I walked away from this book wondering what Greg really learned. Not that every book needs to have some kind of life lesson, but I wanted to see Greg actually face something. It kind of fell flat. Overall, though, a good book that I feel looks at what it really means to have a terminal disease, and the impact of the experience on everyone that person touches.
*YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013
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