Reviewed by Helyce
Favorite Quote: “Hearts are wild creatures, that’s why our ribs are cages.”
From Goodreads: Leah thought that the turmoil in her life had come to an end. That is, until the boy-next-door who’s just moved in, turns out to be none other than her old childhood best friend, Damon. Rekindling their friendship, the two become inseparable and life seems perfect, until Leah learns a tragic secret; Damon is terminally ill and has only one more year to live.
Leah and Damon decide to embark on an adventure to have the time of their lives and cross out every to-do on their ‘Bucket List’. With the clock ticking and time precious, will they be able to complete every goal before time runs out?
I think I was in some kind of funk when the blurb for this book presented itself. Clearly, I wanted something sad to match my state of mind or my emotions at the time. I mean, how much more sad can you get than a young man, just 20 years old, finding out he has a year to live? I liked the idea of the second chance love or more a rekindling of an old friendship that had been torn up by an earlier tragedy. More sadness, see? I admit that I was brought to tears a few times, as one could expect due to the subject matter, but sadly–this particular book was not for me.
Our leads are Damon and Leah, both 20 when this story begins. They’d lost touch after several friends from their close knit group died in a horrific car accident and Leah’s family’s subsequent move. Leah is now in college, but she’s unhappy in her academic path-seemingly forced on her by her parents. Damon, learning about his illness and too soon death, drops out of college and miraculously moves in right next door to where Leah happens to live with her best friend Jenny. They are both overjoyed to have found each other again, but all too soon Damon is confessing his illness, Leah is helping him create the list and deciding at the same time to take a break from college and join him on his adventure to complete as many items on the list in whatever time Damon has left. Money is no problem; Damon has an inheritance and the money he’d have used for college to spend as they go. As they adventure to Hawaii and Europe, they fall in love and try to make the best of the little bit of time they have together.
I liked the characters in this book. Leah and Damon, best friends prior to the accident, find each other after 5 years apart and realize that they had probably been on the way to falling in love if tragedy hadn’t struck and they’d drifted apart. They fall back into friendship very easily, even with Damon’s illness hanging over their heads, and quickly fall in love as well. They make the best of their time together, everything made easier by what seems like Damon’s bottomless bank account. Leah’s friend and roommate Jenny brings some brightness to the scene with her funny and bubbly personality. Rounding out the main cast is Leah’s younger brother Seth, who is going through some growing pains of his own at just 18 years old.
I’m not sure of the exact “rules” for the new adult genre, but I believe that their ages and the fact that all but Seth are in or were in college puts the story in the NA group. But this book, in my opinion, is written more along the lines of how a young adult story would play out. It just felt very immature in many ways, but mainly within the dialogue. I found the way they spoke to each other sometimes, quite silly and not how I imagine this age group speaking to each other. It was repetitive, thereby making parts of it seem endless. And while I know their list was long and they had much to attempt to complete, it started to feel too much like “same thing, different city or country” as they checked the items off their list. There were things that didn’t sit right with me as well. One of the items on the list was ‘go to Las Vegas and lose money’. But neither of them is 21 and I know from experience that the floor managers, especially in Las Vegas, are way too on top of their casinos to let an underage kid play at the tables. Dropping quarters in a machine before getting caught, sure…but you walk up to a roulette table or craps and you will most definitely get carded.
I also really struggled with the fact that Damon had such a hard time being around his parents because he’d see and feel their sadness above everything else. So he chose to stay away, only actually seeing them in person one or two times before he became hospitalized and they were called in. Of course, they are sad, their son is dying-but wouldn’t you make sure to spend some time with your mom and dad, even though it hurt? What I get that the premise implies the H/H going out and doing much on this ‘list’, I still felt out of sorts that Damon would actively avoid his parents, knowing he had so little time.
Though I was tempted to give up at times, my curiosity got the best of me and I forged through till the end. It took me forever to read though, and felt way too long, I was easily distracted or taken out of the story as it started to feel very repetitive. And again, I really struggled with the dialogue. I don’t think this author’s writing style is for me.