Faced with death, one teen discovers life in this bittersweet debut.
Despite growing up in Disney World with parents who performed in the “Spirit of Aloha” at the Polynesian Hotel, cynical and loner Campbell Cooper (an Italian-Samoan–American) gave up on magic after her parents divorced, her father died and she developed neuroblastoma (a cancer with low survival rates in adolescence). Having exhausted Western medicine, her single mother suggests spending the summer after Cam’s graduation in Promise, Maine, a hidden town (with a secret entrance off of the Dunkin’ Donuts at Exit 33) known to have mysterious healing powers. While Cam’s mother and younger sister are awed by such anomalies as flamingos, snow in July and purple dandelions, the teen prepares for the inevitable by suppressing her wishes. But as she begins an unexpected relationship with Asher, whose family founded the town and thus feels obligated to stay so the magic won’t leave with him, she realizes the true meaning of friendship, family, love, living in the moment—and yes, even miracles. Exploring both sides of Cam’s heritage, the story unfolds through narration as beautiful as the sun’s daily “everlasting gobstopper descent behind the lighthouse.” Irreverent humor, quirky small-town charm and surprises along the way help readers brace themselves for the tearjerker ending.
Fans of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay (2009) and others will find hope and laughs amid tragedy. (Fiction. 12 & up)