Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Release date: February 18, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Critically acclaimed author Melissa Kantor masterfully captures the joy of friendship, the agony of loss, and the unique experience of being a teenager in this poignant new novel about a girl grappling with her best friend's life-threatening illness.

Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn't sure what to say.
Even when Olivia misses months of school.
Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe's unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
Even after a couple of days of stewing over Maybe One Day, I still really can't decide exactly how I feel about it. There's a lot I liked, but I also felt a pretty big disconnect.

Every review of this book that I read seemed to mention how emotional the person was over the book, how it made them realize how precious our friends and family are. And... I cried once. Just a little bit--and I'm someone who bawls over anything and everything. With comparisons to The Fault in Our Stars, I expected to be a mess, but I just wasn't. And here's the thing: I can't tell if this is, in some ways, supposed to be my reaction--to some degree--or not. Zoe's reactions, for a long time, feel very stilted, as if she's in denial or it hasn't sunk in yet. But, once she comes to see, I think I should have been a mess then. Wasn't. This makes the book much appealing to me.

When Zoe's best friend Olivia, the girl she's spent every big moment of her life with, gets sick--really sick--she doesn't know how to handle it. This big event was never part of their plan. As Olivia goes through the ups and downs of illness, Zoe has to take each moment in stride; she has to deal with the impossibility of her best friend's death and how life could continue after. It doesn't help that she is suddenly strangely attracted to Olivia's crush Calvin, the biggest betrayal of all... How does a teenage girl who doesn't feel whole without her best friend deal with her best friend's illness?

Even though I was a bit disconnected from the story, Maybe One Day was still a pretty heart-breaking read. It's never easy to read or hear about such a subject, and it's all too easy to put yourself in Zoe or Olivia's shoes and imagine how such a situation feels--though it could never compare to the reality. Maybe One Day focuses heavily on how your life can change in just one moment--that's all it takes. One moment from perfectly normal to perfectly devastating. One moment from healthy to sick.

What is obviously the most appealing part of the story, and what makes up the foundation of the book, is Zoe and Olivia's friendship. The book's focus on the depth of their relationship and seeing how deeply ingrained into one another's lives they are is touching. And it's lovely to see that Zoe never really neglects her friendship with Olivia (despite one little thing...) over a boy.

So, even as I couldn't get as emotionally involved in Maybe One Day as I would have liked, there's still a lot to gain from the story. In a story of love and friendship in the hardest time of your life, that love and friendship shine bright, even in the saddest moments.

About the author:

Melissa Kantor is the author of Confessions of a Not It Girl, an ALA Booklist Best Romance Novel for Youth in 2004; If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince?, a YALSA Teens Top Ten Pick in 2006; The Breakup Bible, an ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee in 2007; and Girlfriend Material. She is a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, where she lives with her family.

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