“Fifteen-year-old Grace Manning is a candy striper in a nursing home, and Mr. Sands is the one patient who makes the job bearable. He keeps up with her sarcasm, teaches her to play poker . . . and one day cheerfully asks her to help him die. At first Grace says no way, but as Mr. Sands’s disease progresses, she’s not so sure. Grace tries to avoid the wrenching decision by praying for a miracle, stuffing herself with pancakes, and running away from all feelings, including the new ones she has for her best friend Eric. But Mr. Sands is getting worse, and she can’t avoid him forever. Robin Epstein has delivered an incredibly engaging, thought-provoking debut YA novel, with all the snappy dialogue and attitude of the movie Juno.”
What I See: This book challenges it’s characters in a rarely seen contemporary way. I appreciated that, but there was still something missing. Grace Manning is a strong female teen character, and perhaps that’s why I’m not entirely on board. She acts a bit too adult. She’s a bit too mature.
It’s a different kind of story, with beautiful passages and thoughts through Grace. I don’t want to hate on Grace, I just want to bring to attention that it’s all a bit cookie cutter when it comes to the end. To go from super adult to typical YA ending makes have a disconnect.
Nevertheless, it’s a story that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s a coming of age story that hits all the buttons and targets for what a books needs to be. And yet, I wanted something more. Not more pages, but I guess it’s the ending for me. It’s a bit 80’s romantic comedy. The major chunk of the story is full of heart and trials, and I guess I wished the end reflected that growth of character. But the grief subject matter is a great discussion point and I’m pleased that Epstein went there. There needs to be more contemporary, stand alone YA books out there!