Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had no idea they called this sick-lit, but for what it’s worth, Zac and Mia is more than just two kids with cancer. No cheap tricks, no cavalier attitude toward the subject. At first they stand on different ends of recovery: him, knowing versus her, still learning. It’s that back and forth between their points of view that allows us to see that indeed there is more to be seen, to be felt.
And though you may predict what the ending is (more or less) on the way to that, much care’s been put into making clear what they go through: the happier of being there for someone else (or its reverse), the sadder of wondering to what end it all is. The sadder still as his thoughts on boredom and being alone contrast to her thoughts on what’s different and what’s been lost. Not much is prettified, they’re not made out to be strong for this or for that, because sometimes they couldn’t be and because of that, they both felt more real.
The anger she feels toward how unfair things are; and the ending you may or may not predict, plus the people in this and the things they feel… all feel real. Him and what he’s learned, her and what she hasn’t. Contrast the two to each other, and liking one is so much easier than the other because it’s not brave girl or strong kid and what not (though there are mentions of those), more it’s coming to terms for the both of them in different ways: a split in both their before’s and after’s. But it’s in the AFTER where HEA’s are not guaranteed, that I came to like the both of them more. Because while there’s frustration that made sense, there’s eventually, courage, as well… and the sweet and the poignant of how one KNOWS what the other is going through.
Thank you, Edelweiss!
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