Thursday, January 5, 2012
Never Eighteen and Full of Wisdom
The worst feeling in life has to be life ended too early. The idea of a young man never able to reach his eighteenth birthday is something we wish didn't happen. Megan Bostic takes this tragic story of a young man who knows his life is ending and what he chooses to do with his last weeks in Never Eighteen.
Austin has leukemia. He has been through chemo and all the treatments, but he knows they haven't worked. His mother wants him to continue, but he is finished with treatments. If the cancer is going to take him, he is going to do what he has always wanted to do. He is going to try and fix everyone in his life he knows is broken. Whether or not he knows why his friends or family are broken, Austin believes his unique position and shocking honesty might just save the people he loves.
Austin also needs to do some things for his own piece of mind before he goes. He has never skinny-dipped or ridden the scariest ride at the fair. Most importantly, he has never told his best friend Kaylee that he is in love with her. As Austin works through his list of things to do, he learns more about himself than he does the people he visits. Not all of it is good, but it gives him the peace he needs to finally say goodbye.
As I first started reading this book, I will admit I thought it was a bit too far fetched. As this boy started visiting everyone, I thought to myself, "Good grief! Is this boy a bad luck charm or something? Why is everyone around him in such dire straights?!" Then I just accepted that it was fiction and the horrible lives of his friends and family were necessary for dramatic effect. When the book finally ended, and I am sure there needs no spoiler alert to how it ends with such a premise and title, I was sobbing. Not just crying, but big, heaving, hiccuping sobs. The final two chapters were so beautiful and so horribly sad, I couldn't stop crying (and my copy of the book is warped to prove it). Bostic might have used a little bit of a heavy hand through some of the book, but in the end, she knew just how to catch you off guard and wrench your heart from your chest.
This book can be pretty mature both in language and in situations. I think it is best left for the high school YA crowd, as it might be a little too old for younger students. The story is a sad one, sure, but the beauty Austin shows everyone is that life goes on and so must the people someone leaves behind. Death isn't easy, but this book made it mean something more than just loss.