This book is a staple of airport bookstores but I didn’t get around to reading it until recently. When I did, I was surprised at what it was about. This book is about teenage love but it is mainly about death, death from cancer and death from cancer as a teenager. And it’s fiction. And the author emphasizes this point in an author’s note; he says “Neither novels nor their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside this story.” I immediately admired him for getting right in my face to tell me this.

I transferred my admiration to the narrator/heroine, a sixteen year old in remission from terminal cancer, her similarly afflicted friends and parents. There will be no plot spoilers here; all I’ll add is that a reliable narrator and people trying to be good can be a very pleasant change. This book is neither sentimental nor heroic about death; Barbara Ehrenreich would approve of its tone. Death is something these characters would rather not face but they have to so they do. Therefore this book was inspirational about how to contemplate death without straining. The author thanked me for taking this as a work of fiction. I thank him.