“When I was a teenager and reading every book I could get my hands on, I was desperate for a girl that looked like me. For a girl who had cancer and lived. And it was really hard to come by. So, I wrote one.”
Normally I like to start off my reviews with a quote from the book, however, we’re going change things up a little bit today. This quote is from the author’s note at the very end of this story and I would be 110% lying if I didn’t ugly cry after reading this. But really, how powerful and amazing is that?
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Thank you Flux books for providing me with an e-Arc of this via Netgalley!
Teenager Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She never really had a choice of whether she learned to dance or not. Her mother, the conservatory’s artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason’s life. But that’s about to change. Cason has been hiding an injury, and it’s much worse than anyone imagines.
Davis Channing understands all too well what it’s like to give up control of your life. He’s survived cancer, but his drug addiction nearly killed him. Now he’s been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital. But just when he thinks he’s got it together, Davis’s ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life.
Cason and Davis are not friends. But, as their worlds collide, they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds?
I think it really says a lot about a book when you’ve read it months ago and it still continues to blow you away, and that’s exactly what debut author Kati Gardner has done. I read this book in March and I still can’t seem to find the right words to talk about how important this story is. I will admit that I did initially judge this book by it’s cover because I mean how can you not?! It’s absolutely beautiful. But I was further sold on this book after reading the synopsis for two reasons. The first, was because I can’t recall ever reading a YA book that battles drug addiction. The second, was because the only other book I’ve read that tackles cancer was TFIOS which I enjoyed.
This book was definitely more character driven than anything else but I found myself rooting so hard for both Cason and Davis, individually and together as a couple. Cason, has been hiding a leg injury in order to audition for a ballet theater telling herself “it’s just a strain”, until she can no longer put off her injury anymore and finds out it is something much worse.
In that one moment her perfect, prima-ballerina, pink-tutu world fell off its pointe. She wasn’t Cason Martin, prima ballerina, anymore. She was Cason Martin, number T7654908, cancer patient.
With her hopes and dreams shattered Cason struggles heavily with her new reality and falls into a deep depression. Davis, a former cancer patient, is sentenced to 300 hours community service at the hospital wing he was once a patient in after getting caught and charged with an intent to distribute drugs. Although Davis has been clean and sober for almost a year he does still struggle heavily throughout this story with his drug addiction, especially on the harder days. As horrible as it is to say, that struggle is appreciated. His drug addiction was not sugar-coated as in “he once did drugs but now isn’t phased by them” it’s “he did hard drugs and still battles it every day”, which is the reality of drug addiction.
If you haven’t put two and two together yet, cancer patient + community service in cancer wing of hospital = Davis and Cason’s worlds colliding together. And although their reason for meeting is anything but happy they both seem to find healing and happiness in one another. This did feature the dreaded insta-love, but I was able to see past it very quickly because this is so much more than a love story. It’s a story about finding hope in the most unlikely places and character development like you wouldn’t believe. Speaking of character development, you’ve never seen it written so well when it comes to Cason’s mom, Natalie. She’s annoying, nagging, and unable to accept daughter’s illness in the beginning, but at the end? Oh, she was everything I hoped for and more. I really had to hold back the big fat ugly tears for her.
This is merely the tip of the iceberg of the story. There’s still so much more to be expected, like, ex-girlfriends coming around, new friendships, restraining orders, surgeries, AH-MAZING disability rep (visible and non-visible), and who knows Cason may even find a new passion in life.
All in all, you don’t want to miss this because it’s a book that will stick with you for a long time to come. And this author deserves not only Cason’s story to be told but her own as well, so don’t mind me while I go back to the author’s note and continue bawling my eyes out.
Until next time!