By: Megan Bostic
Published By: HMH Children's Books
Release Date: Jan. 17, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon
Austin Parker is on a journey to bring truth, beauty, and meaning to his life.
Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. The doctors say his chances of surviving are slim to none even with treatment, so he’s decided it’s time to let go.
But before he goes, Austin wants to mend the broken fences in his life. So with the help of his best friend, Kaylee, Austin visits every person in his life who touched him in a special way. He journeys to places he’s loved and those he’s never seen. And what starts as a way to say goodbye turns into a personal journey that brings love, acceptance, and meaning to Austin’s life.
I knew this book would be moving and emotional just from the synopsis, and it certainly was. In Never Eighteen, Megan Bostic takes the reader on a physical and emotional journey right along with Austin, leaving us, like those he visited, changed at its conclusion.
Austin is sure that he won't live to see his eighteenth birthday because of the cancer. However, he also knows that many of the people around him have virtually stopped living even though they still have life. And so Austin decides that, before he dies, he wants to help others redirect their lives...he wants them to truly live even though he can't. Austin recruits Kaylee, his best friend, to be his chauffeur for the weekend, and they even visit a variety of people and even some places together. Somehow, during the course of the weekend, Austin's visits to say goodbye turn into so much more than that. It becomes a journey for everyone involved...and every journey begins with a single step...
Let me just say: Wow. For a book that is on the short side, Never Eighteen sure packs a LOT of emotion. With the exception of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, I don't remember the last time my heart broke for so many characters in a single book. Every stop on Austin's journey yielded a new story for him or for his friend, stories that were by turns painful, touching, and beautiful. In addition to the depth of this book, I loved the way in which it was told. The writing was a unique blend of conversation, quasi-stream of consciousness, and narrative, and I truly felt everything that Austin did. Everything flowed well together, even the moments that were difficult or awkward. And yes, I will admit that I did have tears in my eyes at the end of this book...and I know that I wasn't the only one.
The only thing I did want from this book was more. I would love to know how Austin's visits affected everyone in the long run. Even without that, I've found myself thinking about this book long after it was over. Never Eighteen has a powerful message and one that I think readers of all ages can appreciate.
Never Eighteen is a compelling debut by Megan Bostic, one that is full of more poignant moments than many books I've read. I cannot wait to see what this author writes next!