Booklist (starred review)
“This thought-provoking novel about smart kids doing interesting things will resonate with the John Green contingent, as it is tinged with sadness, high jinks, wry humor, and philosophical pondering in equal measures.”
New York Times Book Review
“Robyn Schneider can write.”
“Fans of John Green’s blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars who are eager for more of that kind of story will likely be satisfied.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The perfect read-next for fans of the sick-lit trend and readers looking for a tear-stained romance.
It’s hard to imagine a story about terminally ill teens that isn’t depressing, but Schneider (The Beginning of Everything) has created just that. Set in the not-too-distant future after a deadly strain of tuberculosis has swept across the U.S., the novel is set in Latham House, a residential facility for young people infected with the disease. There, 17-year-old Lane reunites with an old acquaintance, Sadie. Despite their illnesses, the two start falling in love as they test their limits inside the facility and reinvent themselves. Lane and Sadie’s alternating viewpoints sensitively trace how their experiences affect their perspectives of both life and death: Lane, once a serious and disciplined student, learns to live for the moment, and Sadie, an unpopular “disaster in middle school,” is becoming a leader, surrounded by friends. When the residents learn that a cure may become available, they are left to ponder what they will gain and lose by getting well and re-entering society. Balancing the hope of new beginnings against the uncertain fates of victims, it’s a novel that should prompt thoughtful discussions. Ages 13–up. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (May)
VOYA, April 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 1) - Amanda MacGregor
Lane’s carefully laid-out plans for his senior year are thrown into chaos when he is diagnosed with drug-resistant tuberculosis and sent to Latham House, a sanatorium in the Santa Cruz mountains. He shares narration duties with the artistic and mischievous Sadie, who has been at Latham for more than a year. Lane naively thinks he will recover quickly and return home, where he is second in his class, continue on his path to Stanford, and then on to business or law school. His main concern is keeping up with his AP homework from his old school and preparing for the SATs. Lane quickly learns that being sick means having to step back from the pressures and responsibilities on which he has come to thrive. Sadie and her eccentric friends show Lane that Latham is a place removed from their real lives, a time for adventure and reinvention. Initially hesitant to test out a new version of himself, Lane realizes that all this time he has had a life plan but no life. Clever banter and self-deprecating humor help lighten the mood at a place where only 80 percent of the patients are expected to ever go home. The romance between Lane and Sadie is bittersweet and thorny. The unique challenges of being essentially quarantined add another intriguing layer to the story. The uncommon setting, Schneider’s keen ear for dialogue, and the distinctive characters ensure that this captivating book about life, death, fear, and second chances will fly off the shelves. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—After being diagnosed with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, the cute but nerdy Lane is sent to Latham House, an isolated boarding school where there is plenty of fresh air, no homework or tests, and long rest periods between classes. Lane, who has been more focused on getting into his dream college than making meaningful friendships and high school memories, connects once again with the eccentric Sadie, a former summer camp intrigue who has already been quarantined at the school for over a year. With only a narrow chance at recovery, as romance unfurls, neither teen has fully come to terms with what it means to be terminally ill. Sadie, who has had a chance to reinvent herself with her close friends of TB misfits, isn't sure what life outside of Latham would mean for her, whereas Lane, who always felt fun could wait until college, is forced to slow down and now sees how little he has lived. Even with the grim setting, funny dialogue, especially among Sadie's close knit group of friends, carries this story through its predictable paths. The novel is told in alternating voices, and Sadie's characterization often feels a little weak in comparison to Lane's. Still, their struggles will have teens wanting to read to the finish. VERDICT Schneider's subtlety, combined with themes about learning to live life fully, makes this an easy recommendation for those seeking titles similar in premise to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012).—Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR
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)