Hardcover: 284 Pages
Publication: October 2, 2012 by Walker Books for Young Readers
Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death.
Mia's a popular, pretty, smart girl with everything, and then her life begins spiralling downward when she's diagnosed with leukemia. Mia could have kept her friends and much of her normal life if she'd admit the truth to everyone, but her mom convinces her to fake at normalcy--and that begins her life. Pretending that she's okay and denying everything else. Having been perfect all her life, Mia doesn't know what to do when she's not the golden girl anymore.
Mia makes a lot of wrong decisions. She hides her cancer from her friends. She falls into the wrong arms out of loneliness. She wants everyone else to make the important decisions for her. I can understand that Mia would be scared and rely on signs to tell her what to do, but she's too busy worrying about herself to see how much she's hurting the people close to her. Her mom doesn't help at all. Mia's mom is overly involved in Mia's life and presses all of her expectations on Mia. While Mia is trying to figure out her life with cancer in it, her mom is busy trying to pretend that everything is okay to notice Mia's pain and need to clue in people on what's happening in her life. To choose the right boy instead of the one her mom wants for her.
The gems in this story are Ryan and Gyver. At first, I thought that Ryan was with Mia because he wanted to get into her pants, but he turns out to be really supportive and caring. In fact, I felt sorry for him because of how Mia was stringing him along, wanting to find solace in his kisses without committing to a relationship. The same goes for Gyver, except that I liked him all along. These two guys are Mia's rocks in her confusion, and the nice guys that they are they didn't deserve to be used like they were.
I love sad stories, and this sounded like it would be for me with Mia dealing with the big C. In ways, it is. I appreciate Mia's struggles coming to terms with her life after cancer. Her character growth has its ups and downs, but she does figure things out in the end. At the same time, it takes too long for her to realize what was really important to her, and she lashes out at the world in the process before realizing her mistakes. I would have also liked to see more of the medical sides to leukemia and how it impacts Mia. Mostly, this book is centered on the characters and their development, which would have worked if I was able to like Mia more. Unfortunately, between Mia's mom and Mia herself, there was too much drama for me. As much as I liked much of this book, it ended up not being for me. However, for those who are able to sympathize more with Mia, I'm sure they'll find a gem in this book.
An ARC was provided by Macmillan for review.