Pub. Date: 17th January 2012
Publisher: Graphia/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books
Readership: Young adult
Austin Parker will never get to celebrate his eighteenth birthday. If he continues treatment, he will live a few more months, but in immense pain and constant exhaustion. Austin makes the decision to give up his treatment; he’d rather spend the rest of his time making amends and visiting people that he knows do have time to live their lives. Never Eighteen is a novella about the difficulties of having to learn to embrace acceptance, courage, and change.
Never Eighteen is a extremely fast-paced story. I guess at just over 200 pages, it has to be. It took me a little while to adjust to moving from one event to another quite swiftly, without going into too much detail. I wanted a bit more background information and insight into Austin’s motivations and feelings about each person he visits and each experience he has. What did he aim to do by visiting that person? Was confronting that fear liberating? About half way through the book, things start to come together. I began to empathise more with Austin and become more emotionally involved in his journey. I was initially a little irritated at Austin’s obsession with his best friend Kaylee, who accompanies him on this trip, and the constant reminders about how she doesn’t love him back. However, the more I read about what they had gone through together, the more I understood.
Never Eighteen may seem unrealistic at times and it certainly addresses a lot of issues – loss of a loved one, domestic violence, bullying, and many more – all at once, but at the same time, it gives the reader a positive thought: that it’s never too late to make a change and improve your life. It’s a quick, emotional novella that had an impact on me more than I expected.
This book was obtained as an eGalley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books.