A cancer diagnosis derails a teen’s summer plans.
In her wildest dreams, white and privileged Maddie Levine never could have imagined that she’d spend the summer before college anywhere other than with her best girlfriends, kissing boys and soaking up sun at the club. She certainly never imagined that her beloved grandmother and family matriarch would be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and whisk the whole family off on an eight-week, “death-with-dignity” cruise as her final farewell. While readers know from the very beginning how this story will end, they will be surprised to discover that the journey is far more about life than death. Maddie’s first-person account is filled with humor and fun, introducing readers to a raunchy, heartwarming, and endearingly dysfunctional family. The story is made all the richer by a cast of quirky supporting characters that includes her two gay uncles, a sweet and slutty cousin, her larger-than-life grandmother, and a small handful of terminal patients and their families who are celebrating and grieving alongside them. Best of all is the achingly romantic love story that unexpectedly blossoms between Maddie and a fellow shipmate and lends the story much-appreciated moments of passion and levity.
A poignant and important story about compassion, love, and the decision to live life on your own terms—right up to the very last minute: all aboard. (Fiction. 14-18)