When Lane’s drug-resistant tuberculosis lands him in a sanatorium, he finds that one of the other residents is a girl he met at summer camp years ago.
College-bound Lane is in denial about his illness, assuming that he can keep up with his AP work and go home soon. Sadie’s condition is neither improving nor getting worse; she’s been at Latham House long enough to have formed a group of friends who go on nighttime excursions to buy contraband in the nearby town. In alternating chapters, Lane and Sadie narrate their gradual interest in and eventual love for each other as they await an upcoming drug trial that could mean an end to their quarantine. The teens’ voices are authentic, and there’s enough humor to keep this from becoming maudlin, even though the miracle drug doesn’t quite make it in time. A lengthy author’s note spells out Schneider’s intention to write about a nonexistent form of TB to “fix” what she sees as teen literature’s lack of medical narratives “that humanize the illness experience.” Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t necessarily make for good storytelling, as the message takes over, leaving readers to muse on Sadie’s philosophy that “living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it.”
Readers will do better to seek out The Fault in Our Stars. (Fiction. 14 & up)