G. Bianco, 2019
How would it feel to not be able to touch the ones you love? To not be able to comfort them while they’re crying, hug them when you see them, or even hold hands? And the reason is because of a disease that has no cure. The teens in Rachael Lippincott’s Five Feet Apart must deal with distance as they grapple with emotions in the midst of battling Cystic Fibrosis, an autoimmune disorder that damages the lungs over time.
When Stella Grant returns to the hospital for her routine treatments for cystic fibrosis, all she cares about is surviving long enough to get off the transplant list and receive the new pair of lungs she's always wanted. Will Newman is done with living life moving from hospital to hospital and is waiting until he turns eighteen so he can actually live his life before it’s over. When Stella and Will meet, they can’t help but be drawn to one another. But the rules state that cystic fibrosis patients can’t be within six feet of one another. Their only chance at survival is to stay apart. But would taking back one foot really make or break them?
At first, I thought this story would be predictable. Two sick kids fall in love, something cliché happens, something tragic happens, end of story. Despite the novel being a bit cliché, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Stella and Will’s story. It made me smile, it made me cry, and I really hoped it wouldn’t end. (In fact, as I’m writing this review, I still wiping away stray tears!) I did find this to be an extremely quick read compared to other novels I’ve read. I think this might’ve been a combination of the plot being very engaging and book coming in at a little under 300 pages. I think the book could have been a little longer and developed some more minor plot points, but the focus remaining on Stella and Will wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I just wish I could've learned more about Poe and Stella’s sister, Julie, as well as Stella and Will’s lives before the beginning of the novel. Besides all that, I did like how the novel shed light on to a disease that many people are afflicted with in the real world. I had heard of cystic fibrosis, but had no idea what patients went through or how rigorous treatments could be for it. While I have no reference for how accurate the scenarios in the novel are in comparison to what actual CF patients go through, I did appreciate the acknowledgement of such an underemphasized disease.
If you’re a sucker for a good teen romance book, then this book is for you! I couldn’t help but compare it to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, since they have similar premises. While I didn’t find it as metaphoric and resonant as The Fault in Our Stars, I still enjoyed it all the same. Now, I have to watch the film!
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