Book Review: All These Lives

All These Lives
Published By: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Page Count: 245
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher for Blog Tour
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Dani's fraternal twin, Jena, has leukemia and the only thing that can save her is a bone marrow transplant. Twins should be able to save one another, but Dani is not a match for her sister. As the family waits and hopes that a donor will be found, Jena continues to battle her illness. Dani, on the other hand, is finding out that she isn't as strong as she once believed. She can't let her sister die. She has to think of some way to help. During some of her most desperate moments watching Jena's strength ebb away a little more each day, Dani remembers the stories her mother has always told about her having nine lives. Dani seems to survive dangerous situations that would leave others dead. Does she truly have extra lives to spare? If she does, can those extra lives somehow be transferred to Jena to make her well?

I found this novel to be a heartbreakingly gorgeous story about the bond between sisters. Dani tries so hard to hide her pain behind her sarcasm and dry wit, but its obvious that she is being torn apart by the thought that she might be forced to live without her other half. She can't understand why she is healthy and her sister is so sick. Dani's behavior is realistic to situations were people try to figure out why they are surviving when others are not. It was painful for me at times to read what Dani was thinking. She is so broken in so many ways. Her pain seeps from the pages and coats your fingers, clinging to you, pulling you into the grief alongside her. Every emotion she feels is palpable; her character is one of the most heart wrenching ones I have spent time with recently.

This novel is one that forces you to think about the bonds forged by family. I can't even imagine living through something like this - watching one of my siblings sicken and wither. The helplessness of everyone in this book was something that truly hit me hard. How do you even begin to cope with something of this nature? The stress of the situation is evident in every scene. 

Overall, I was very impressed with Wylie's debut. This one is heavily character driven which was a nice change for me after some of the other books I have been reading. You truly get to know Dani from the inside out. There are moments were she irritated me, but I also had to think about her motivations behind her behavior. In spite of the depressing subject matter, there is a fair amount of hope laced within these sentences. Perhaps the most surprising element is the strength of Jena throughout the whole novel. She is truly someone to admire. Sarah Wylie is a new author who is certainly one to watch; I am excited to see what she will write next.

One Last Gripe: Dani's bitchy moments and selfishness got on my nerves after awhile

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I really loved the whole concept behind the snow angels and the writing in that section of the book is gorgeous

First Sentence: This is how it feels to die: It starts from outside and works its way in.

Favorite Character: Jena

Least Favorite Character: Candy

Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away.

To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.