In this exquisitely written and emotionally charged young adult debut, Jennifer Gilmore explores how sometimes the wounds you can’t see are the most painful. Did you know your entire life can change in an instant? For sixteen-year-old Lizzie Stoller that moment is when she collapses out of the blue. The next thing she knows, she’s in a hospital with an illness she’s never heard of. But that isn’t the only life-changing moment for Lizzie. The other is when Connor and his dog, Verlaine, walk into her hospital room. Lizzie has never connected with anyone the way she does with the handsome teenage volunteer. However, the more time she spends with him and the deeper in love she falls, the more she realizes that Connor has secrets and a deep pain of his own . . . and that while being with him has the power to make Lizzie forget about her illness, being with her might tear Connor apart.
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What worked: Gilmore does a great job showing a teen who suffers from ulcerative colitis. The pain, embarrassment of finding out she has to wear a ileostomy bag as she doesn't have a colon, and the whole awkwardness that people show around those who end up seriously sick. **She even nailed that brilliant but jerky doctor. You know the one without any bedside manners.
There's even a little THE FAULT IN OUR STARS feel that takes place inside the hospital. Nothing over the top but readers get brief glimpses into relationships that occur within a hospital, which include a romantic interest.
The strength of this novel isn't the romance but rather Lizzie's journey from finding out about her illness to dealing with it. These are shown in very authentic details.
What I did have issues with had to be Connor. I get that he's cute and being that guy at the hospital who can appear all caring(plus he gets brownie points for having a dog). What didn't work for me is how he lied so much. He came across as being a jerk and manipulative. He even mentions how he knows Lizzie really is helping him and not the other way around. Plus, his revelation made it very hard to like him at all.
The novel touches on romance but it happens so fast that it was really hard to connect with them.
But that's just my opinion.
I did like the other relationships in the novel like Stella, who helps train dogs. Her hardcore appearance hides how smart, caring she really is. Those scenes with her and Izzie worked.
Heartbreaking and realistic portrayal of a girl's journey from finding out about her serious illness to trusting in her heart.