Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: All These Lives by Sarah Wylie

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All These Lives
Sarah Wylie
Release date: June 5th, 2012
by  Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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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.

*A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review purposes*

While I was a bit thrown off by the nine lives viewpoint, All These Lives is a really captivating story about dealing with cancer in a loved one. What’s different in this one, is that the story is not actually about the cancer patient, but her sister, Dani. Dani and Jena are twins, Jena has cancer and Dani is battling with guilt. Specifically, she feels guilty for having nine lives, when Jena is fighting for her one.

Let me tell you straight up. Dany is a bitch! She’s snarky, rudely sarcastic, and kind of a bully. This could put off some readers, but I found it strangely interesting. If I knew her in real life I would detest her instantly, in this novel however, her voice is remarkably compelling. She amused me with her peculiar sense of humor, and her reflective thoughts are extremely tormenting. You can understand how much she’s really struggling, thus making her personality a little less… inviting. She’s hiding behind a mask so people don’t see how deeply she’s hurting. We’ve definitely got an original protagonist who may not have the best personality, but her tragically broken state makes this a truly memorable book. I also have to say that I was particularly pleased with the parental roles and their prominence in the story.

Dani thinks she has nine lives. She’s been in accidents that should have killed her, but didn’t. This aspect in the story is a tad strange. I was never sure if it was meant to add some supernatural elements into it, or if was simply Dany’s illusory contemplations about death. Even though it’s a big part of the book summary, this side of the story is not the primary focus. It’s not even about the actual cancer. It’s really more about the sisterly bond, and Dani’s unusual way of dealing. It’s not your typical cancer novel. Though you can still expect a lot of deep emotions; helplessness, loneliness, and desperation can clearly be felt throughout. There is also some humor and lighthearted moments, even a bit of romance, that gives it the perfect balance. I felt the ending could have gone with more spark; I was expecting more closure in some aspects, but I’m satisfied nonetheless.

A remarkable story about an atypical teenage girl in an unforgiving situation, All These Lives is a wonderfully moving novel that I think many readers will easily get immersed in. This beautify writing debut novel proves that Sarah is an author to watch for!

4 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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42 Responses to “Review: All These Lives by Sarah Wylie”

  1. April (BooksandWine)

    I’m not huge on cancer books, even though I’ve read like 3 this year, but that whole sisterly bond thing fascinates me. I have 2 sisters and so I am always kind of attracted to stories where sisterhood takes the main stage, ya know. Also, the 9 lives thing sounds totally weird from where I am sitting.

  2. Nicola

    When I saw you were reading this, I was crossing my fingers that you’d like it! I’m so glad you did. :D I agree, no way would I like Dani in real life but she really grew on me. Great review, Giselle!

  3. Jasprit

    I’ve had my eye on this book for a while but I was always unsure about checking it out, but seeing as how you liked it so much I think I will be checking it out too!

  4. Lalaine

    eeep I was on the fence in reading this book but that amazing review and 4 cups of hot espressos is so hard to resist. Great review Giselle. <3

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  5. Amy

    I have a hard time with books like this. I enjoy them, but I am a really sensitive and emotional person so I get really worked up. This sounds like a really great book though. Great review chick!!

  6. Carina

    I love that this seems to have a unique way to deal with this topic, so I can’t wait to read my eARC of it. I’m glad you enjoyed it despite the somewhat unlikable protagonist and I’m really looking forward to see what I’d think about it. Thanks a lot for sharing, my dear! :)

  7. Kristan

    I love reading books where the story focuses on the sister relationship. Especially after reading Saving June I’ve been obsessed with these type of books. I have a sister and we have a great relationship so these type of stories always hit me a little harder than other contemporaries. I’m interested to read this book myself now!

    Kristan @ Lost Amongst the Shelves

  8. Hannah Doermann

    Great review! I completely agree with you – the nine lives thing is kind of weird, but Dani’s awesomeness makes up for it. I wouldn’t like her in real life either, but I loved being inside her head. Glad you liked it too :)

  9. Victoria Scott

    Sounds spectacular! I love it when the main character isn’t a ‘perfect’ character. I tire of narrators making all the right choices, saying all the right things, etc.

    I’ll be looking this one up. Thanks!

  10. Hannah Lorraine

    I haven’t heard anything about this book yet and I’ve been curious, so thanks for your review. I oddly always like when the MC is bitchy and I know I wouldn’t like them in real life – but once you’re inside their brain it kind of works. It’s weird, but it’s definitely an interesting perspective. Plus, everyone isn’t as nice and sweet as most heroines. I’m definitley going to try to get my hands on a copy now =)

  11. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    It sounds almost as if the author couldn’t decide whether to write contemporary or paranormal. I’m not sure I’m in the mood for contemporary, especially one that involves cancer. I have a list of them for when the mood strikes, though. Will add this one too.
    Lovely review as always, Giselle.

  12. Shooting Stars Mag

    It kind of reminds me of My Sister’s Keeper in a way, which I did really enjoy. The nine lives thing is a bit odd, I agree, but it still sounds good. I’m glad you enjoyed it overall and thanks for the warning about Dani. Shocking to hear at first, but not surprising that she woudl be harsher on the outside to surpress her fears on the inside.

    -Lauren

  13. margie c {the bumble girl}

    I tend to stay away from these types of books, but the whole 9 lives part and the beautiful cover really intrigued me. I’m really interested in reading this one now, sounds very different than the typical stories out there right now.
    Great review, thanks for the rec :)

  14. Nick

    This one seems like a sad story, but it’s great that the book is written in the POV of the other twin. I’m not sure whether I’ll like Dani or not. Bitchy main characters can really annoy me. I’m still going to give it a shot when it comes out though. :)
    Great review, Giselle !

  15. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    I was hestitating to read this one when you said that Dani is a real bitch. Personalities like that often turns me off in a book, but perhaps I could understand her behaviour. Books about cancer are tough, but I like the whole twist the author gave to it.. Hmmm, I’m fascinated and I’m going to keep this one in mind. Thanks :)

  16. Sarah Elizabeth

    I have to say that this sounds like a strange concept, but I’m actually intrigued! It’s odd when you know that you wouldn’t like the main character in real life but they grow on you during the story.
    I wouldn’t normally read a book with a character who has cancer. I can’t help but feel empathy for the characters, and I ultimately find the story emotionally draining. This doesn’t sound like the normal cancer story though so think I will give it a shot!
    Thanks for your wonderful review, I would never have picked this book up otherwise :)

  17. Sam

    I haven’t read many cancer novels but this one sure sounds interesting. Great review, Giselle! I don’t think I quite understand the nine lives aspect either, but I’m interested to give this a shot sometime. :)

  18. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    A story about cancer usually pulls me away from being interested in a book. I like the sound of how this book is about sisterly bonds.

    I also would never be good friends with a character like Dani but i admire characters that are bossy and sarcastic. LIke Cordelia from Buffy and Angel; Cordy is my favorite character from the shows because she is not afraid to tell her opinion no matter how mean.

    When i was reading the book’s summary, i was also wondering about the nine lives bit.

    Wonderful review Giselle! Thanks for bring this book to my attention!

  19. Vicky @ Books, Biscuits, and Tea

    I love cancer books, for some weird reason. But this 9 lives thing does sound strange! And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like Dani in real life but I LOVEEEEE the sound of this book so I’ll have to give it a try. :) It went straight to my wishlist. *salutes*

  20. Candace

    This sounds really interesting but this is what interested me the most: “Dany is a bitch! She’s snarky, rudely sarcastic, and kind of a bully. This could put off some readers, but I found it strangely interesting. If I knew her in real life I would detest her instantly, in this novel however, her voice is remarkably compelling.”
    That alone makes me curious!

  21. Lucy

    Sound interesting and not your typical cancer book. I love books that are touching but they repeat repeat repeat. This one sounds not so normal!

  22. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I honestly usually avoid cancer stories. They are so sad but this one does sound unique since it follows Dani and her struggles. I can only imagine what a bitch I would be if my sister was dying of cancer. It does make for a compelling read. I was wondering about the nine lives thing too. I guess I’m assuming it’s just her way of thinking and dealing.

  23. Katie @ BlookGirl

    Great review, muffin ;-) I’m not sure about the nine lives aspect of this one. When I first discovered this book a month or two ago, it just didn’t seem like it made sense with the rest of the story. I may give this book a chance, though, after having read your review.

    I like your description of Dani’s character. I’ve known people who were hurting, or who had been hurt, that externalized that hurt by acting out or by being jerks. I’m curious to see how Sarah Wylie captured that here.

    Thanks for the great review! :-) <3

  24. Melanie

    Sounds like a great read although the whole nine lives sounds a bit strange. I love that cancer is not the main focus but the bond between the sisters is. Thanks for sharing! This one goes directly to my wishlist. :)

  25. Rachel

    This did sound like a paranormal novel. I’m surprised that it isn’t. I’m sure it would be beyond difficult to have your twin suffering from cancer. The guilt would horrendous. Glad you enjoyed this one Giselle. As always, excellent review. :)

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