Never eighteen by Megan Bostic

cover image

Definitions, 2012. ISBN 9780547550763.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Cancer. Death. An American book which has a similar theme to Before I die, is Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic. Austin asks his best friend, Kaylee to take him to a few places one Saturday. He asks an older woman who he seems to know well, to ring her daughter. He sees a boy he has not seen for a while, and listens to his story about why he has dropped out of life, then visits an old girlfriend he knows is being beaten by her current boyfriend. He offers advice. He calls on a boy he bullied many years before to apologise. The reader realises he has a list of people whose lives he feels he can put back on track.
He has a list of people he wants to see before he dies, making sure that things unsaid will be said, ensuring that their lives can be improved. But he has only a few months to live. He wants his parents to get back together, he knows that still care for each other, but are unable to communicate. He wants his mother to talk to her mother, estranged since his parents' split. He wants above all to tell Kaylee that he loves her. In the background we hear of Austin's bout with cancer, as he comes to the decision not to have any more chemotherapy. He wants to be alive for his last few months, not doped and in pain.
Never Eighteen does not have the emotional depth of The Fault in our Stars, or Before I die, but is nevertheless a gripping read, and has been well received.
Fran Knight