Astrid Ayeroff (16) has cancer. While she thought her cancer in remission, symptoms of her illness have returned. Hers is a recurring tumor, and she has very few treatment options. She and her mother attend a neuroscience conference where she hopes to be accepted into a trial study. There, she stumbles upon a display from a company experimenting with cryopreservation. Her body could be frozen and she could wake up sometime in the future when a cure might be available for her brain tumor.
Devastated by the thought of dying so young, Astrid obsesses over this experimental technology. A premature death means she won’t have any more time to spend with Mohit (her boyfriend), her best friend Chloe, her mother and so much more. Cryopreservation offers her hope. Plus, a road trip across the United States means she can spend time with the people she loves and see sights she may never have another opportunity to experience.
With the help of the Internet, some video blogging (vlogging), and crowdfunding, Astrid secures enough money to visit and tour the cryopreservation facility. She heads west with Chloe and Mohit and makes a stop to visit with her dad and his wife.
NOTE: For individuals who have or have had cancer or know someone who has died recently, this story may not be for you.
BTSYA / Teen Reader (13):
What I like most about this novel are Astrid’s distinct narrator voice and the way the story spins a unique take on the common “dying teenager” genre, with the addition of futuristic technology. It is both a coming of age story, as well as one that explores large questions around mortality and the choices that one has in the face of death.
This novel is quite sad, as Astrid describes both the physical pains from her cancer and the mental suffering. What makes the novel most compelling is the focus on Astrid’s relationships (for instance, her relationship with her mother is very moving and it is clear she cares greatly for her). It does a great job of exploring themes around love, friendship, death, and loss.
However, one aspect I was not as fond of was the relationship she had with Mohit. Mohit as a character seemed a bit self-centered, focusing on his saxophone when Astrid had little time left.
Readers who enjoyed John Green's The Fault in our Stars will likely be drawn to this novel as well. It is a classic young adult novel to borrow from the library.
This is a beautiful, well-told realistic story that is rich, raw, and sad. It is not for everyone, but those who loved The Fault In Our Stars will hug this book, too.
Characters use profanity. The story is about a girl who is dying of brain cancer. The elements of her disease, her feelings about death are handled directly and with specificity that could make some readers uncomfortable or find overwhelmingly sad.
This is a realistic story narrated by a girl who is dying of brain cancer. Please see the content warning note.
The story is sad in that it is about one girl's reflection on her impending death. However, Astrid also shines a light on another important concept: appreciating what you have and making the most of your time. That can make for some engaging, important discussions.
14 and Up
13 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 13
Definitely borrow. It is a beautifully told story, but it is not one that you will come back to.