Ummm … Hi Readers!
I think I’ll just pretend that it hasn’t been 22 days since I last posted. I basically have no excuse beyond extreme busyness and exhaustion due to an amount of homework that should be declared illegal. And I’m only taking 12 credits this semester!
Hopefully the fact that I have three author interviews in my email inbox just waiting to be posted will make up for my absence. (Please?) But, the author interviews will have to wait because today I have a book review for you.
Selene Castrovilla’s “The Girl Next Door” is a heartbreaker. I’ll tell you that outright. Selene tells you that outright, with the first few lines of the book, spoken by the protagonist, Sam: “Jesse’s dying. The doctors are 96% sure of it. They even have a time-line. Seven months. They give him seven months, tops. I try to hold on to hope, but 4% is a weak reed to cling to while you’re thrashing to keep your head above water.”
Sam and Jesse have been best friends since their stroller days. They grew up in the same apartment building in New York City, played in the sandbox together, went to school together. Jesse is popular, an all-achieving athlete. Sam is his quieter, more awkward sidekick. During their senior year of high school, though, their lives change drastically when Jesse is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Do not read “The Girl Next Door” in public, because you WILL cry. There’s no escaping it. I went into “The Girl Next Door” with the resolution that I would NOT allow myself to care about Jesse and Sam – I knew that reading the book would hurt too much if I allowed myself to connect with them. But Selene foiled my plans. Her characters jump off the page and drag you (kicking and screaming, in my case) into their world. You hurt when they hurt, you cry when they cry. Selene Castrovilla is a master of characterization.
“The Girl Next Door” is “A Walk to Remember” and everything that Lurlene McDaniel ever wrote, but it’s also more. It’s a devastating story of illness and loss, but it’s also a journey. Your heart will break, and your eyes will be red, and your tissue supply will be greatly reduced, but “The Girl Next Door” is worth it.