by Sarah Wylie
Expected publication: June 5th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away.
To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: June 5th 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: eARC, 245 pages
First line: This is how it feels to die: It starts from outside and works its way in.
Last line: She looks a lot like my sister.
Favorite quote: "Most people think the biggest sacrifice, the greatest act of love you can give is to die for someone.
And probably it is.
But Sometimes it is the opposite.
The biggest thing you can do for someone is to live."
Sixteen-year-old Dani has survived a couple of situations in which she was very close to dying during her younger years, and she also remembers her mother telling her, in a playful way, that she takes after herself. That she is the girl with nine lives. Now, she's older and has to see her fraternal twin, Jana, go through the most horrible treatments for cancer. She can't even help by donating her marrow, because, incredibly enough, they're not compatible.
But Dani is convinced she can help in another way. She has nine lives. Enough lives to spare. So she decides she'll throw a few of them up into the universe, hoping her sister will be able to 'capture' them and get better. But by doing so, she manages to push away the few friends she still has and to convince everyone she's trying to kill herself. But they don't understand. She's just trying to save her sister.
Her parents are trying very hard to act like things are normal, like nothing much has changed, but everything has. Jena specially. Dani can hardly recognize her sister anymore. She's so small, so weak, so sick and defeated. The smallest fever can bring her down, and she has almost daily visits to the hospital. At school, Jana's old friends act like she never even existed, and Dani can't stand that. So she finds comfort in teasing/bullying her classmate Jack when she feels like talking or just hanging out with her only friend, Lauren, (who just can't shut up) when she feels like losing herself in her thoughts.
She also hangs out with bad boy Spencer, who seems to like her quite a bit, but quickly manages to push him away when she decides to crash his Harley for one of her soul 'deliveries'. Even though she still goes to school and random auditions to please her parents, Dani has really given up on studying and acting. Both things she used to be very good at. But now she has other priorities in life. Like trying to lose her lives.
I loved this cover. From the minute I saw it I knew I had to read this book. And it was SO good! I normally try to avoid much drama, but Danielle was such a complex character. She's trying so hard to pretend she's okay, that she's not freaking out on the inside about the possibility of losing her sister any day now. On the outside she tries to look like a very funny, very carefree person, (and she has some really great humorous quotes! Cracked me up quite a bit), but we can see she's trying too hard. I really, really liked her. And Jana, the poor girl, was so sweet, also trying to hide how pissed and depressed she was about the disease. They broke my heart.
I'm not one for very dramatic and sad books, but once in a while a gem like this attracts me and I can't help but let it take over my life for a couple of hours. Probably because I always forget that after all the suffering, they usually leave me a feeling like having one's soul somewhat... lighter.
Sarah Wylie is a very talented writer. She sucks you into the story, she honestly makes you care about the characters and feel what they're feeling. There's no better way to read a story than to feel like you're part of it. Too bad we can't change it.
If you like your YA with realistic fiction, dramatic family issues and very well-written characters and situations, you'll be blown away by All these Lives.
* I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*