Recap: Picture this: you’re 22-years-old and you learn you only have a few months left to live. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you see? These are the questions Dante King must answer. After suffering from headaches for months, he sees his doctor only to learn he has a rare, inoperable brain tumor. As it would happen to anyone, the news comes as a complete shock. But at such a young age, Dante is overwhelmed by the decisions he has to make. Ultimately, he decides it’s not worth fighting the tumor. Doctor appointment after appointment after appointment make it clear that his chances of survival are minimal.
So he decides to live life to the fullest — taking a trip around the world, visiting the places he’s never seen but has always wanted to. Neglecting to ask his friends to join him doesn’t keep them from coming, and suddenly he and his three closest friends — Wil, Ethan, and girlfriend Danii — are seeing the world together. But for Dante, this is not just a journey to foreign cities; it’s a journey to come to peace with what’s happening to him.
Analysis: This is one of the rare novels that’s not read to find out how the story ends. We know from the onset that it will result in Dante succumbing to his deadly tumor. This is a story worth reading for the journey, both external and internal. As someone in her mid-twenties, I couldn’t help but ask myself what would I do if this happened to me? Though rare, Dante’s health issue is one that could happen to anyone. The realness of this plot is chilling and just as dreadful for the reader as it is for Dante.
Author Matthew Turner does a great job using his words to paint pictures of the cities Dante visits. Dante watching the sunrise in the desert. The warm Christmas in Australia. His breathtaking skydiving jump. But along the way, there’s a lot of dialogue between Dante and his girlfriend and close friends. None of them knows how to deal with the situation. Turner uses these conversations to show how each character is feeling. The dialogue certainly helps to move the book along. The novel would drag if it solely consisted of descriptions of cities and thoughts. That said, there are times where it feels like everyone is overly sentimental, constantly talking about their feelings. But placing myself in any of the characters’ positions, I found myself thinking, wouldn’t I do the same?
MVP: Dante’s friends — Wil, Ethan, and Danii. It’s hard to do what any of these characters did. To leave their lives and travel with their sick friend for months is a serious undertaking, especially when it also means caring for their friend. But to do it at such a young age is commendable and shows a lot of maturity.
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