Thursday, February 28, 2019

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott - HIGH

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, 281 pages. FICTION.  Simon & Schuster, 2018.  $18.99 
Language: R (Multiple F's) ; Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G.



Stella Grant is hard-working, optimistic, kind, computer-coding 17yo girl with Cystic fibrosis (CF), a terminal condition that is slowly deteriorating her lungs. The whole story takes place in the hospital as Stella is checked in for another month long stay to undergo an extensive set of treatments  hoping for the news that a new set of lungs for her have finally been found to get a transplant. Stella has spent the majority of her childhood in and out of hospitals so she immediately reconnects with her friends Barb and Julie, the nurses, and Poe, another CF patient she has grown up with. However, this time, there is a new patient: Will the handsome and mischievous, and rebellious 17yo boy. Their attraction and opposite personalities immediately create trouble and sparks all over the hospital.

Five Feet Apart is a traditional teenage love story, but with the modern twist of terminal illness. Although I am wary of these stories the message they are sending to teenage readers, this book tried to overcome the girl as the McGuffin and show more complex topics like hardship, sacrifice, and empathy. The medical condition and treatments of CF were written with great accuracy and the focus on the disease and how it destroys health and futures of the teenagers, but also the nurses, doctors, and their friends and families was enlightening. The hope and positivist for the future was sincere and the characters genuine.  I got to know Stella as a girl and not just a romantic interest and not just as a sick and dying girl, but one with CF.  I also saw what that really meant for her and her family, friends, and for her romance with Will. The love story is there, but so is education about something new and expanding my knowledge about another person’s perspective and their life struggle. Reading Five Feet Apart for that shift in perspective is reason alone to read this book and pass it on to a young reader. The mature content is a non-touching stripping scene.

Dina W - ELA Teacher

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