Fifteen-year-old Kayla Doran is a high school athlete from Cork, Ireland, who is well known and respected for her abilities on the basketball court, and the novel opens as she shoots the winning shot in a game, her mother in the stands cheering her on. Kayla meanwhile is holding back tears as she feels an incredible pain in her knee and begins looking for her Mam.
A visit to the doctor reveals that Kayla has Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that affects children and young adults. Her mother, Heather, summons Kayla’s Dad to Cork, where they together break the news to Kayla. She’s been referred to Dublin, where there are better resources to handle Kayla’s case. Kayla’s father Gavin and his present wife Charlotte, live there, along with Kayla’s little sister Molly. Kayla’s doctor, Dr. Patterson, wants to begin w/ surgery and chemotherapy as soon as possible. She is promptly admitted, and Gavin invites Heather to stay in the spare room in Gavin & Charlotte’s home, putting the household in disarray.
As Kayla becomes sicker, and the chemotherapy doesn’t seem to be effective, she begins to realize that she is not going to survive, but she wants to leave a legacy for her mother, so she enlists the help of her best friend Aiden, her step-mother Charlotte and her doctor to help her see things through.
Told from the perspectives of Kayla, Heather & Charlotte, the reader gets private glimpses into the chaos, the despair and the pain of Kayla’s illness and the impacts it has on each family member, from Kayla’s slow recognition that she is not going to recover, to Heather’s pain over losing her best friend and only child, and Charlotte’s grief over Kayla, and insecurities of being on the outside looking in as Gavin & Heather bond again over their shared child. Even young Molly is impacted by Kayla’s illness in ways the reader will empathize with.
I laughed, I sobbed, and I smiled my way through as Kayla’s larger than life personality shone through this novel, and as she made sure that her mother would continue to live. A fabulous read, one I could not put down, and one that will resonate with you long after the final page is turned. A MUST READ!
I was fortunate to receive this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.