By: Wendy Mills
Available March 2015
Jodi Picoult for teens meets Lurlene McDaniel. Beautiful written, beautifully moving, a vivid contemporary story of a girl’s unusual but terrible dilemma – and the love story that springs from it.
16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had the knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.
Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer. And there’s even worse news to come. Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother’s death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable. And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin? The chances she’s inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to know now and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?
As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. Down on the ground it’s a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself. Sure enough, she’s positive for the gene that’s slowly killing her mom.
Suddenly, Erin’s life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair – but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love.
This Blonde’s Review:
I’m just going to start with a confession that this book made me cry. So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on shall we?
Erin’s father died when she was young so all she has had was her mother. When she finds out that her mother has breast cancer, while knowing that her grandmother died of cancer, she is devastated. She knows she has to be there for her and struggles to support her mother. But the way single mothers are, she wants her daughter to continue living her life and not give everything up for her. When Erin overhears a conversation and demands answers she learns that there is something called a cancer gene and that she may have it. As we all know, when we’re told not to think about something that doesn’t mean we won’t think about it. If anything, that means we focus more.
With the internet as an instant resource for anything Erin very quickly finds a message board in attempt to find answers. Mostly older women who tell her to forget it until she’s older, but she does make one friend who is her age. A friend that she connects with strongly. I loved hearing everything her new friend had to say, it was always so thoughtful and deep. Ashley was focused on living rather than letting a potential cancer gene hold anyone back from a fulfilling life.
Erin’s response to everything is to take up flying. When she’s finally able to fly solo she finds herself making the impulsive decision to fly towards Ashley before she even realizes her destination. All she knows is she wants to experience the peace that her friend seems to find.
Seeing Erin struggle to come to terms with her potential future and her mother’s heath was heartbreaking. I could see myself in her shoes, whether I would have responded the same or not. This story was heartbreaking and I loved it. I loved getting to know Erin’s family and friends. I loved everyone in her friend’s family, some more than others.
If you enjoy reading stories where people have to deal with the fear of losing the people they care about, and deciding whether to risk their own hearts, then you’ll love this one.