4.6 84
by Lurlene McDaniel

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This moving and charged novel by Lurlene McDaniel, the bestselling author of inspirational fiction for young adults, presents ethical as well as moral dilemmas and explores the harsh reality of making a choice that, once made, can never be undone.
Travis Morrison knows how good his life is. He’s a champion diver and one of the most popular

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This moving and charged novel by Lurlene McDaniel, the bestselling author of inspirational fiction for young adults, presents ethical as well as moral dilemmas and explores the harsh reality of making a choice that, once made, can never be undone.
Travis Morrison knows how good his life is. He’s a champion diver and one of the most popular kids at school. He has Darla, the girl he loves; Emily, his kid sister, whom he actually doesn’t mind hanging out with; and Cooper, his best friend.
On the first day of summer vacation, all four go boating on the lake, and everything feels perfect. They cut the motor and drift toward their favorite spot, where cliffs abound—nature at its finest. Travis’s friends ask him not to try the diving stunt, but he can’t resist a challenge.

Travis’s silly stunt dive goes wrong, and he fears he has broken his leg. Instead, his trip to the hospital reveals devastating news. In an instant, Travis’s life and the lives of everyone around him are forever changed.

Travis understands that his parents believe they’re doing what’s best for him. But he’s always been sure of himself, and he’s sure of one thing now—that he and only he should decide the course of his life. He has a plan, but he can’t carry it out alone. How will he convince the three people he feels he can count on most to help him? And when things get even worse, who will fulfill his most important request?

In this honest and probing novel, Lurlene McDaniel tackles a controversial subject, sensitively exploring the issues of personal choice and quality of life, and poignantly reminding readers that every individual deserves to be treated with dignity.

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Editorial Reviews

Angelica Braaten
Breathless looks into the lives of four teenagers living in southern Alabama: Cooper Kulani, a half-Korean, half-Hawaiian misfit; Travis Morrison, champion diver of his high school; Emily Morrison, Travis's younger sister; and Darla Gibson, Travis's girlfriend. Cooper lived with his alcoholic mother until he was taken in by Travis's family years ago. Both Cooper and Emily have feelings for one another but never express them. Darla lives with her abusive father. The novel begins on the first day of summer vacation when the four take Travis's boat out on the lake. Travis decides to dive off the edge of a cliff into the lake and ends up in the hospital. He finds out he has bone cancer. Each chapter takes the first-person perspective of one of the four main characters. Reviewer: Angelica Braaten
Children's Literature - Laura J. Brown
Travis Morrison is a high school athlete on the rise. He is an excellent diver, and his whole high school team is counting on him to help them win the state championship next year. Travis is looking forward to the competition too; in the meantime, though, he plans on enjoying summer. He loves being in the water and often wonders if he is part fish. On the first day of summer vacation, he goes out to the lake with his girlfriend Darla, his best friend Cooper, and his kid sister Emily. It is a beautiful day, and the water is perfect. Travis decides to do a diving stunt because he cannot stand being near water and not diving. His friends and sister do not think it is a good idea, but Travis is fearless. When he takes the dive, something goes very wrong. In an instant, Travis's life changes forever. This is the story of a young man, his friends and his parents doing everything they think is right in a very difficult situation, dealing with horrible news, and finding themselves at odds with each other. This is a story of courage, pain, struggle, death, suicide, and victory. The story is presented in chapters told from each character's point of view. Unfortunately, although Travis's parents are referred to in the book, neither gets a first-person chapter to express their fear, frustration, and sense of loss. Their struggle about doing what they think is best for Travis can only be guessed at, although that information could have only made the book richer. Still, this is a book that does back away from the hard questions about life and death. It is a book that will tug at readers' hearts. It will render them incapable of putting it down until the last page. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Travis, a champion diver about to start his junior year of high school, is hanging out with his friends and sister on the first day of summer vacation. The cliffs over the lake call to him, and he climbs up to dive from them, only to hear his leg snap when he jumps. Still in the hospital days later, Travis finally hears the diagnosis: bone cancer. Facing amputation and chemotherapy, he knows he'll never get back to the life he had. As Travis gets sicker, his only comfort is his research into death-with-dignity and right-to-die groups, and his only hope is that his friends will help him once he can no longer help himself. The narrative rotates among four teens: Travis, his sister, his girlfriend, and his best friend. Each voice is distinct and shows a different perspective on Travis's life since his diagnosis. The ending is heavily telegraphed from the beginning (the book opens on an unnamed character who admits that "right and wrong dissolved into what I knew I had to do"), but this does not diminish the impact of the final chapters. This is a heartstrings-tugging read that retains the central character's dignity and peace in the face of insurmountable odds. A sensitive book on a delicate topic.-Brandy Danner, Wilmington Memorial Library, MA

Kirkus Reviews
The prolific author's latest novel features her signature pull at teen readers' hearts. In the slim volume, four distinct voices describe Travis Morrison's terrible health situation. Travis is a champion high-school diver until his femur snaps while cliff diving at a rural Alabama lake. It's bone cancer. In alternating chapters, the fragile emotions of his best friend Cooper, his girlfriend Darla and little sister Emily come forth. Travis's health deteriorates after his leg is amputated and he bounces between chemo treatments and false remission over the next year and a half. But there are other story lines. Cooper's mother is an alcoholic prostitute, Darla is labeled the school slut and Emily is the kid sister in love with her brother's friend. The pages drip with angst as Travis's health fades to a point where he pressures the other teenagers to help him commit suicide. Melodramatic scenes, stock characters and stiff phrasing blemish this work. Despite-or perhaps because of-these formula-wrought flaws, McDaniel's fans, who seemingly read with tissues in hand, will snatch it off the shelves. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.80(d)
HL560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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