Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan)
First published: June 5th, 2012
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.
My Rating: 3.5 / 5
Dealing with her sister's illness is not easy for Dani and we get to follow her journey through many different emotions and tactics - denial, guilt, anger and fear. While such stories always are quite emotional, I had a few problems connecting with these characters and their suffering. Nonetheless it's an enjoyable read, giving the reader insights into the lives of people who have to deal with a severe illness.
Believing that she has nine lives instead of just one, Dani tries to get rid of them and hopes that at least one of them will be released towards her sick twin sister Jena and therefore save her. While this may sound somewhat paranormal, All These Lives definitely seems to be a contemporary story with a main character who simply wants to believe in the supernatural.
I definitely enjoyed this aspect of the story, especially since it showed just how badly Dani wanted her sister to survive. Their relationship has got complicated, but they still love each other unconditionally and a story that's focusing so beautifully on two siblings is rare.
Nonetheless Dani isn't the most likable main character that I can imagine. She can be stubborn, selfish and quite annoying, but at the same time these traits are important for the story line. While they made it a bit hard hard for me to relate to Dani and feel a real connection with her stories and the people who are important to her, her development was very interesting to witness though.
Next to dealing with Jena's illness, the love story in All These Lives fades into the background but is present nonetheless. Even though I usually prefer stories that focus on romantic elements, it would have been out of place in this novel and therefore the few (beautifully written) scenes we get are more than enough.
All in all, I can definitely recommend All These Lives for everyone who is looking for a slightly heavier contemporary story. Due to my lack of connection with the main character I didn't enjoy it as much as others did, but still liked it and will definitely take a look at Sarah Wylie's future works.
Debut Author Challenge 2012
YA Contemporary Challenge 2012
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