This honestly should be a 2-star review, but I spent so many years loving this book that nostalgia won’t let me go below 3. 💔 I first picked this book up back in 2005, I think, and I loved it. I reread it six or seven times over the next decade, but this was the first time I’ve reread it since getting back into YA books last year, and it didn’t hold up at all for me.
Alison believes that everyone finds their “Mr./Mrs. Right” eventually, but until their times come, she and her best friend Isabella are focusing on their studies, their bright futures, and their families. Of course, a wrench gets thrown in that plan when Alison’s “Mr. Right” turns out to be the motorcycle-riding new kid at school that Izzy is crushing on… and the plan is completely thrown out the window when Izzy tells Alison she’s been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
In a last-ditch attempt to make her best friend’s last days as joyful as she can, Alison begs Sam to leave her behind and to spend time with Isabella, just until everything is over. Romantic feelings are unpredictable things, though, and aren’t meant to be toyed with.
WHAT I LIKED ➳➳
Katherine’s writing style has always made for quick, easy reads (look at the MG series she wrote, Animorphs, and all of its spin-offs), and this is no exception to the rule. It’s a tiny book, really, and most people could easily read it in one sitting, so you aren’t investing a lot of time into the story.
Sam is a really enjoyable “bad boy” love interest, and while every bad boy in the YA contemporary world seems to have their own secrets that turn them into a lovable teddy bear, Sam’s secrets are surprisingly heartwarming and bring along their very own sad spin to the story.
WHAT I DISLIKED ➳➳
The shortness of the book makes it an easy, quick read, but it also means that there is no room for development at all. I feel like, if the book had a solid 150-200 pages added to it, it could be fleshed out so brilliantly that this review would be an easy 4 or 4.5, but as it stands, the plot feels incredibly rushed and the insta-love is STROOOOOONG with this one.
Besides the insta-love, Alison is just a really bland character that never really gets developed very much. Izzy is supposed to be one of the main features of the book, but she feels like a vehicle for the “cancer prop” of the story. Sam probably gets more back story than anyone, which seems odd, since he doesn’t actually appear “on screen” all that much.
FINAL VERDICT ➳➳
All in all, I’m sad to say that I probably will be donating my copy of this book now that I’ve finished reviewing it, because I can’t see myself ever picking it up for a reread. I’m a little devastated by how much my opinion of it had to change when I took off my nostalgia-filtered sunglasses, but it’s just really not what I remembered it being. I’d probably still recommend this to a very young preteen or teen – maybe someone in the 11-14 range who might be newer to the genre – but if you’re looking for a solidly fleshed out YA contemporary about love and loss, I’d pass this one.