“A book that will make you happy to be alive” says Heat. At least that’s the quote that’s on the cover. I’m not quite sure how this is supposed to be achieved? So you read a book about a teenager dying, and feel better because you aren’t that teenager?
This is a book that deserves far more than trite cover quotes. Tessa is dying. She’s not happy about it. She’s writing a bucket list, but it doesn’t include swimming with dolphins. She wants to have sex. Do drugs. Say yes to everything for a day. And she desperately, hopelessly, doesn’t want to die. It feels to me like an honest book. I can’t honestly see how you reconcile yourself to dying as a young person – I’m fairly sure I couldn’t reconcile myself to it now and I’m way older than 16/17. So the anger in the character, the selfishness does come through the powerfully clear writing, but at the same time the love and energy is there too. Tessa is a real person, sharp edges and all, and the people around her are just as clearly delineated, from the unexpected boyfriend whose life she changes forever, to the brother bouncing through the days and swinging from love to hate himself.
It is unusual to find a book with incidental characters to clearly shown in all their glorious strengths and weaknesses – this is powerful writing. Did I say that already? It’s worth saying again. There’s no hiding from the issues or fears, the unpleasantness of the business of living on after someone you’ve loved dies.
I cried. I’m not sure how you couldn’t. And I didn’t want to put it down, after it took me a couple of weeks to find the strength to pick it up. I knew I was going to be rung out by it, but hoped it would be worth it. And it so much was.
A fantastic debut from an author I’m sure we’re going to be hearing a lot about.