Evie, 17, bravely faces terminal illness along with her fellow teen sufferers, until fate intervenes; unlike Stella and Caleb, Evie miraculously recovers: “There has been a mistake. Or a miracle.”
Thrown into limbo and unable to resume her picture-perfect cheerleader’s life, complete with football-playing boyfriend Will, Evie writes to now-dead Stella: “If I’m not Cancer Girl, who am I exactly? Crutches Girl?…No one knows what to do with me now that I’m alive.” Trapped in her life and her still-weak body, Evie experiments with painkillers, alcohol and a relationship with rebellious teen Marcus (foil to steady Will and sweet Caleb), whom she meets while high on pot. Her connection to Marcus is defined by a mutual commitment to bad decisions, though even stoner Marcus urges Evie to avoid Oxycontin. Like Evie’s puzzled and hurt friends and family (who feel she’s ungrateful and manipulative), readers may find themselves alienated by Evie's bad behavior, a gutsy move for Reed. The book’s epiphanic ending may come too late to salvage readers’ relationships with her—or Evie's life. Or not. Readers will be intrigued or vexed by the ambiguity of the ending, depending on their tolerance for plot twists.
Offering a provocative spin on the typical teen-with-cancer plotline, Reed risks her protagonist’s likability to explore the aftermath of life-altering second chances. (Fiction. 14-18)