By Wendy MillsBlurb: Jodi Picoult for teens meets Lurlene McDaniel. Beautiful written, beautifully moving, a vivid contemporary story of a girl’s unusual but terrible dilemma - and the love story that springs from it.
16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had the knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.
Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer. And there’s even worse news to come. Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother’s death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable. And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin? The chances she’s inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to know now and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?
As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. Down on the ground it’s a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself. Sure enough, she’s positive for the gene that’s slowly killing her mom.
Suddenly, Erin’s life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair - but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love.
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
My Rating: 4 stars
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All quotes included are from an ARC, and will be checked with the finished copy of the story once it is released.
Which would you rather, to have a long miserable life, or a short, beautiful one?
This book was a beautiful sob-worthy read and I honestly don't think I've ever highlighted so many quotes in a story for no other reason than the fact that they somehow spoke to me. (For instance, the quote above.) This book was Positively Beautiful. I started out not knowing if I would like it, but by the end, I knew; I didn't just like it, I loved it.
Erin Bailey's mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and what's worse, Erin finds out she may have a genetic mutation that puts her at risk too. She has to decide whether she wants to know and try to protect herself, or go the way of "ignorance is bliss" and live her life. I loved Erin. I felt the way she dealt with everything felt real; sometimes the decisions she made weren't necessarily the best decisions, but they all were things that people under an insane amount of stress and grief could do. She is faced with a lot of heartbreaking questions, things that no teen should have to think about, like what will happen if her mother dies, or if she has BRCA gene that could cause her to get breast or ovarian cancer, and she still carries on. She was a very complex character, and by the end of the story I was quite proud of her for overcoming so much.
Erin finds comfort in a person she meets on a BRCA website in a forum, Ashley. I constantly would highlight the things Ashley told Erin; it was good advice, and really deep. When Erin finally meets Ashley face-to-face, I was totally shocked. I hadn't guessed what would happen or how it would happen. I loved it.
I loved that this story focused on relationships in a non-sugarcoated way; Erin's best friend becomes estranged from her because of a fight. The boy she kind of likes doesn't end up being the love interest. (more on that later.) Erin's mother, who I loved--she was kind and loving and she and Erin had a great relationship--might die, and Erin has to deal with that.
The writing is simply beautiful. There are so many gems of sentences to be found in this book. Not only that, but the character's emotions were artfully showed through the writing to the point where I felt exactly how they felt just reading.
The plot is wonderful; the lesson I took away from it was to live life to the fullest, because you never know what's ahead, and it went about showing this phenomenally. Erin's journey is great to read about. I loved everything about it. By the time Erin was learning how to fly a plane, I was downright inspired to go out and do something.
The romance was awesome because it was so unexpectedly unique. At the start of the book, I was sure the boyfriend was going to be Michael, who Erin seems to like. I was not looking forward to this; Michael has an unhealthy obsession with death, and I didn't love him as a character, much less a love interest. But it doesn't go that way; Erin realizes he's not the boy for her. Later, a new person is introduced, and I loved Bailey and him together. Their relationship was messy at times but it all came together in the end.
The ending ripped out my feelings and threw them away. Oddly, I didn't cry. I felt absolutely hollow inside, and my throat choaked up, but there were no tears. Still, I was overwhelmingly sad. There was a light at the end of that dark tunnel, but I still felt very solemn as I read the last few pages.
I've decided not to conclude this review with a summary, but instead leave you with this quote.
Courage is not always big and bright and loud; sometimes it's as silent and small as true words, a smile when you'd rather weep, or getting up every day and living with quiet dignity while all around you life rages.