Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

book coverNever Eighteen by Megan Bostic
Published by Graphia, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Seventeen-year-old Austin Parker has been diagnosed with incurable cancer. He’s been through treatment after treatment, and at this point the doctors have told him he won’t make it to his next birthday. Instead of wasting the time he has left, Austin sets out on a journey to visit each person in his life who has meant something to him. Along with his best friend Kaylee, he spends a few days attempting to repair some of the brokenness he has witnessed in his seventeen years.

Never Eighteen is a slim novel with a very important message that definitely resonated with me. Austin has been dealt a death sentence, but instead of moping around about it he decides to do something valuable with the remainder of his time here on earth. And over the course of a few days, he definitely does some valuable things – he mends some broken relationships (his own and others’), gives helpful words of wisdom, and even falls in love.

Here’s the thing – I liked the book. I even cried at the end. But I have to say that the overall feeling of the novel felt a bit over the top and saccharine sweet, for my tastes. It also felt a bit unrealistic – I highly doubt that in real life, just because a kid who is dying of cancer tells you to stop doing something or acting a certain way, you will automatically listen. And it wasn’t like that in every case in the novel, but the overwhelming majority of the people Austin visited were very quick to accept his words and take his advice. And to me, that just wasn’t realistic.

But like I said, it affected me emotionally. The end is incredibly sad-making and I definitely shed a few tears. Although it’s sad in a way you wouldn’t necessarily expect. The novel also got me thinking about what is really important in this life and if I only had a few months left, what would I want the people closest to me to know? Maybe we should think about that more often, and communicate those things before it’s too late.

So overall, I liked Never Eighteen although it is far from perfect, in my opinion. Although it felt a little contrived to me, the book did have me thinking long after I finished it. And that’s always a good thing, right?


11 thoughts on “Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic”

  1. That is all that we hope for I think, to remember a book even a week after we finish it. The premise sounds like a weeper, and thought-provoking. I can see where it could get too hokey, though. Whenever some I know passes, and I hear all the things that people say about the person at their funeral, I always wonder what people will say about me. It certainly makes you re-evaluate the way you live your life!

  2. Sounds like there are some valuable messages, but I could see how a book like this could feel contrived as well. I think this topic is difficult to write about without making it too saccharine.

  3. I find your reflections on this one pretty interesting. Though it does sound a little contrived, the fact that it made you think about these things, and consider the fact that there are important things to say and do in our lives before we pass tells me that one one level this book was a success. But I am not one for trite literature, so that aspect might bother me. I would be interested to read this one and see what I think of it. It certainly has the potential to either make me sad, or push buttons! Great review today, Heather!

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