All These Lives by Sarah Wylie
Summary: Dani’s twin sister Jena has cancer. Dani has always known that she was the luckier twin: after all, as her mother says, she has nine lives. She’s survived a variety of near-death situations, which have led her to believe that she might actually have more than one life. Then Dani hears something interesting: the Nine Life theory suggests that when a person loses one life, it is transferred to another person who needs it. Dani decides to see if losing one (or more) of her nine lives will help her sister survive.
My thoughts: All These Lives is a different type of cancer book. It’s not about a teen with cancer, really. It’s about that teen’s sister and how she comes to terms with the fact that she can’t do anything about the cancer. Dani has a bit of a God complex; she wants desperately to save her sister, and she does drastic things to hopefully do just that. If we take a step back from how odd the Nine Lives concept is, and how strange it is that Dani genuinely believes it, we can see that Dani truly has good intentions. She’s a great person deep down, even though her actions at school may say otherwise.
You see, at school, Dani is kind of a jerk to everyone. I liked that Sarah Wylie wasn’t afraid to make her main character dislikable. Dani mouths off (hilariously, I might add) to almost everyone, and at times it’s difficult to understand why everyone puts up with her. But I loved Dani doubly because of her flaws—they make her a real person. In fact, Dani was my favorite part of All These Lives, because of her strangeness and because she isn’t afraid to be who she is.
Jena isn’t your typical angelic Kid With Cancer—she acts out as best she can because of her frustration with the disease. Jena is docile because she has to be, but if she had a choice, you’d better believe she would be raising hell. I liked the way Jena was portrayed; even though she isn’t the main focus of the book, she’s given a lot of attention by the author. It’s tough to write a good Cancer Book, but Sarah Wylie pulls it off really, really well. She doesn’t sugarcoat things, especially when it comes to the pain a family feels because of the disease. But the not-so-happy aspects of the story are balanced with Dani’s life at school, which is a completely disaster (the kind of disaster you want to watch, though, like reality TV). All These Lives will make you happy and sad, a balance I really appreciate, since reading about sick people isn’t my absolute favorite thing in the world.
If you’re a fan of realistic fiction, you definitely need to pick up All These Lives. Your shelves won’t be complete without it.
For those who like: quirky characters, cancer books done well
Source: received from publisher for review. Thank you!
Bonus: I filmed a video review of All These Lives back when I read it in early May. Enjoy!