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I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this blog tour review. I mean, it says it all right there in the synopsis right? A guy dying trying to come to grips with the last of his days. I don't know what it says about me that I am drawn to books like this, books that force you to delve into the tough issues of life. However, every time I do, I always feel changed somehow. And maybe that is why I do it.
Whatever I thought I knew about this book, I didn't. This book surprised me in so many ways. For one thing, I only cried during the epilogue. Well, and one other time there was a single tear, but I can't tell you when, because it was such a critical moment of the book. So not crying about a dying person may sound like the book wasn't that great, but it was. It really, really was.
See, Turner decided to write a book about life. This book in so many ways was not about death and dying, but about living. Truly living. It was a hard look at what we do everyday that we may one day regret - whether it is not speaking up out of fear, being stuck in a comfortable routine, being afraid of a life you hadn't planned to live, wandering through life avoiding commitment, or even indecision. While Dante is the voice and the backbone of the story, there were four people in this book who went through a transformation. Actually, five, because this book did something to my mind and my soul that I can't quite describe. It so visceral, yet subtle that I didn't quite know what to think until it was all said and done. But it made me want to live.
The moment I started the book, I knew I was going to love the author. He started each chapter with two or three music recommendations. And two of the three on chapter one were two of my very favorite songs. And one of my very favorite musicians. So, I knew that even if I didn't like the words in the story, I would resonate with the music. And I did. I took my time reading so I could listen to each recommendation during the said chapter. This book took much longer to read that way, but I really think it was worth it and provided a rich reading experience.
The book doesn't read like a story -- most times I felt like I was reading a memoir or a nonfiction essay. And that was okay. It made the way I approached the material seem more real and less like a story someone had written to entertain. It felt like Dante was a real person with a real voice, telling me his story.
At first I didn't care for the girlfriend Danii. I think I was already loyal to Dante and didn't want her to hurt him. But, she grew on me. All four of the characters did. It was great to see how they grew from the experiences they had together. I loved when Ethan confessed that he hated that he was having fun, when the trip wasn't about him having fun, but making sure Dante was okay. When he confessed that maybe, just maybe that daily routine he cherished so much didn't have as much meaning as he had been giving it.
And the end, the emotional turn that the book took was just a perfect way to end the story. I had a thought earlier in the story, but I was still taken aback when it happened. And of course the epilogue. It's like when we know what is going to happen, and yet we somehow still wish for it to not happen.
The one critique I do have of the book is the wordiness. I feel like an edit to trim down on some of the dialogue and thoughts could have tightened and polished this book up. It was definitely different from any book I've read in awhile. It wasn't something I normally would pick up. It was a hard read, but it was worth it. And it was probably hard because it did seem so real -- I didn't feel the way I feel when I read a YA book or a book that makes me escape to another world. It was gritty, raw, and unabashedly uncomfortable, because it made me take a hard look at myself. And that my friends, is why I loved it most of all.