Published by HarperTeen on February 18, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Darlings Are Forever
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Zoe and Olivia have been best friends since they can remember — they do everything together, they danced together, they planned for the future together. Then Olivia is diagnosed with leukemia and everything is so uncertain. Zoe tries her best to be there for Olivia and treat her normally as she continues to get treatment, misses school and seem to continually get weaker but it becomes hard for her with how everything changes and how she is supposed to continue living in a forward motion when things with Olivia are so uncertain.
Overall I rather liked this one and constantly couldn’t wait to pick it back up…but I don’t think it made the overall kind of impact to make it stand out for me that I thought it would be and there were some little things that irked me. But overall my feelings are more positive than negative — there was just some sort of disconnect there that is hard to explain. It just wasn’t all the way there for me.
Despite the premise which is an emotional topic — a young girl’s best friend being diagnosed with leukemia – it took me a little bit to get emotionally invested (I was invested in the story but not yet emotionally) but when I DID…WOW. I was a hot mess and just weeping by the end. Melissa Kantor got me SO invested in the friendship of these girls that I just felt everything along with them. I loved learning about their friendship and all its facets — how they met, how dance was this huge bonding thing for them and just all the things that best friends did and talked about it. It reminded me a lot of my best friend from middle school and I — being constant figures at one another’s houses and planning how we would do this and that together as grownups. I had some serious friendship nostalgia with this one.
I think that is really where this book shined for me — the friendship. It was complex and it wasn’t always perfect but they had such a strong foundation and really had such love for each other. I’ve read The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor and I think she really is just very talented in creating great stories of friendship that feel authentic and easy to relate to. Knowing the back story and FEELING the magnitude of their friendship made me invested in them going through this together and I appreciated that Zoe, who is definitely not always perfect and doesn’t always know how to deal with this, loved and supported Olivia in the best way she knew how — visiting her, acting normal towards her, teaching the dance class for her, etc. I felt it was realistic to how a teenage girl would react in this situation.
I know a lot of other people didn’t like Zoe but I really came to like her. She was doing the best she could in these uncharted waters. Having been a teenager when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I know how you are consumed with it but at the same time, in grappling with it, you also very much are consumed with the other parts of life going on around you — boys, other friendships, things at school, etc. I felt Zoe was very real in this balance in trying to keep LIVING life but dealing with this situation with Olivia and I loved the secondary characters who added to all this. I know that it’s hard to swallow how things happen with Zoe and Olivia’s sort of crush but that didn’t bother me so much because she’s a flawed human being and we don’t always go about things they right way. I could feel her struggle with the whole situation and so it didn’t make me dislike Zoe and I REALLY loved Calvin (and wanted more of them maybe?)
Even though I grew to like Zoe, I think she was a bit of my disconnect alone. Zoe’s relationship with dancing was a huge thing — something that was her whole life, along with Olivia, and she’s just never really been able to find what it is that makes her tick after she’s cut from dance. It derails her and how she became after made it hard to connect to her at first. She literally doesn’t have anything, besides Olivia, anymore. She’s disinterested in everything, and mostly everyone, because her plans don’t turn out how she thought they would and just stops living so she just kind of was a flat character for me until I got further in the story. She focuses on dealing with Olivia’s illness and being there for her and I saw glimpses of Zoe becoming interested in life again but I wish I would have seen more growth in her with really FINDING herself again because I might have not felt that disconnect.
“Time does not care how precious it is, how hard you are working not to squander it. Time passes.” — Maybe One Day
If you are looking for a good book about friendship that is emotional and heartbreaking but gives you the warm and fuzzies thinking about your best friend (or former partner in crime from your childhood like I thought of), Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor is a very solid book. I think I’ve read more hard hitting books with similar subjects that had a bit more depth and a bigger impact but, overall, I feel very positively towards it besides some random things and some disconnect with Zoe herself — apart from who she was as Zoe & Olivia.
The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor (more so if you liked the friendship side of this book), Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, The F-It list by Julie Halpern
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Did you like it less/more than me? Did anyone else feel a weird disconnect in ways? I attributed it to Zoe herself and feeling like I didn’t really KNOW her apart from her being Zoe & Oliva. What was it for you if you felt this? Did anyone else bawl?? Whew. I couldn’t stop.