Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

Publisher: Graphia
Publication Date: January 17th, 2011

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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Get out the tissues, because even though you know from the beginning that this book is going to end with the death of the protagonist, it still hits you like a ton of bricks when it happens.  This book is so beautifully written and with such depth that, as the reader, you form intense bonds with the characters.  It will feel like a punch in the gut when Austin dies; you will relate to Kaylee, because you will feel like you lost a good friend.  This book is a difficult read because it makes you face your own mortality, but it is also a very uplifting and inspiring read because it makes you think about the people in your own life- relationships, burned bridges, things that you would not want to go unsaid if something were to happen to you tomorrow.  It gave me a lot of hope as I followed Austin in his quest to make right the wrongs in his life, to try to get through to people that needed a wake-up call, to experience at least a few of the things he wanted to experience before he died.  I found myself wondering if I would want to know if I had only a short time to live, or if I would want death to come instantly.  Is the suffering that a slow death, like that of a cancer patient, worth being able to tie up those loose ends?  I still don't know, but it makes me grateful for the time I have and eager to make sure the people in my life know that I love them.  This book is powerful in that thought-provoking way, but it is more...

Megan Bostic does a fantastic job with the character development in this book.  As I mentioned before, I bonded with Austin and Kaylee.  They became more than characters in a book to me.  The supporting characters were also very well well rendered; Austin's mother made my heart break, his grandmother, his peers; everyone in the story, no matter how small their role, contributed to the emotional roller-coaster ride.  I really love the idea of this story and the way in which it was told.  I'm an adult, and a parent, so I have a different perspective than this book's "target" audience might, but I really feel like Megan did a great job getting her message to younger readers.  Yes, there is some content that some readers would find objectionable; a lot of older reviewers like myself- parents, teachers, librarians- took issue with some of the issues that are touched on in this book (language, teen drinking, abuse, homosexuality, rape, drug use, and sex), and it's recommended age of 12+, but I don't at all.  Twelve year-olds are well aware of all of the above; they all use the language (don't even TRY to tell me that YOUR perfect angel doesn't), they know much more about sex and sexuality than we give them credit for, and are well aware that many teens drink and use drugs.  This story wouldn't be so real and credible if it were cleaned up, and quite frankly, it's really not about any of those things at all, but about Austin's journey.  It's not supposed to be a pretty or easy read, but one that is supposed to stay with you, and I really think it will.  I read this in June, and I'm writing this review in December, and it's still very fresh.  I have a feeling that it always will be.  Thank you NetGalley and HMH Children's/Graphia for the opportunity to review this wonderful novel!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  As I mentioned before, there is some mature content, but I feel the "recommended" age of 12+ is accurate.  I think that it would actually behoove many indestructible 12 year-olds to read this book.  Normally, I would say that a book with themes like these would be more appropriate for HS students because I would be afraid a less mature student would be able to wrap the heads around them, but Austin's voice is such that I think a 7th or 8th grader would be fine.  Grades 7 and up.

*Don't forget to register for my 25 Days of Jubilation Giveaway!  Three lucky entrants will win their choice of one book off of my Top 25 YA Books of 2011!  Click HERE!*


  1. Aw, I have such a hard time reading books like this. I love them because of the impact they leave (and I can totally tell that this one is going to leave a huge impact, because I could see how it moved you while reading your review on it) but they can be so, so hard to get pick up (for me, at least).

    Really glad to hear that you liked this one, I'll have to keep an eye out for it

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

  2. I LOVE your review! I've been wanting to read Never Eighteen since last year. It was on my DAC 2011 list. I was so sad when they bumped back the release date.

    -Diana M.

    Thanks for posting!


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