Never Eighteen

Never Eighteen

4.3 26
by Megan Bostic
     
 

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Austin Parker is on a journey to bring truth, beauty, and meaning to his life.

Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. The doctors say his chances of surviving are slim to none even with treatment, so he’s decided it’s time to let go.

But

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Overview

Austin Parker is on a journey to bring truth, beauty, and meaning to his life.

Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. The doctors say his chances of surviving are slim to none even with treatment, so he’s decided it’s time to let go.

But before he goes, Austin wants to mend the broken fences in his life. So with the help of his best friend, Kaylee, Austin visits every person in his life who touched him in a special way. He journeys to places he’s loved and those he’s never seen. And what starts as a way to say goodbye turns into a personal journey that brings love, acceptance, and meaning to Austin’s life.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Austin Parker knows he will not live to see his 18th birthday. Before leukemia can take him from his family and friends, he plans a long weekend with his best friend, Kaylee. The two embark on a mission to meet with friends and family members, hoping Austin can leave them some advice on how to live. Bostic paints the teen as mature for his age, but he is still a well-drawn and realistic character. However, it's a little difficult to believe that the friends and family members he visits have all suffered in extreme ways. Austin meets with, among many others, an ex-girlfriend who is being physically abused, a girl who has been raped, a friend who is a closeted homosexual, a kid he used to bully, and his dad who has yet to divorce his mom. Reading this list might give the impression that the book is a major downer, but it's actually uplifting. Austin and Kaylee are strong, well-crafted characters who care deeply for one another and those around them. Somehow, even given the plethora of problems faced in this book, it works.—Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD
Publishers Weekly
In Bostic’s melodramatic debut novel, 17-year-old Austin Parker, who is dying from leukemia, embarks on an exhilarating weekend journey through the Seattle area with his best friend/crush, Kaylee. Austin is determined to visit everyone who has touched his life and dole out wakeup calls to those who aren’t living life to the fullest. He visits the mother of a friend who died, an ex-girlfriend in an abusive relationship, various family members, and others, interspersed with trips to a fair, a keg party, the Space Needle, and Mt. Rainier. The brief episodes unfold at warp speed, weakening their believability and impact; despite the painful circumstances in their lives, Austin’s acquaintances open up to him immediately during his surprise visits in dramatic, expository conversations (“The old Allie died that day, on the sticker bushes, right along with her virginity and her self-respect,” says a friend who was raped). Sensitive, selfless, and nonthreatening, Austin comes across more as a wise-beyond-his-years guru than an authentic teen—teenage girls will shed tears over his inevitable death, but male readers will be hard pressed to identify with him. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

"Bostic writes this graceful, affecting tale without pretension...Perhaps it's because of that simplicity that the story concludes with such a powerful emotional punch." --Kirkus "It is easy to connect with Austin because his journey is honorable.....Bostic’s narrative is concise, chapters are short, and the story never lags. Her story is sad, but it is real and pulls no punches."--VOYA
VOYA - Jonatha Basye
What would you do if you knew you were dying? Austin Parker is going to die—well before his eighteenth birthday—and he is on a mission. Austin wants to complete his bucket list before his body surrenders to the cancer growing inside him. He wants to touch the lives of those around him and to help them remember to keep living. So many of his friends have gotten lost along the way; even his parents have forgotten what it means to really live. Leukemia may be destroying his body, but his will is strong. Austin enlists his most trusted friend, Kaylee, to help him on his journey. He has many things to tell her before it is too late. This reviewer was impressed with this first offering from Bostic. Her story is simple yet resonates with the reader. It is easy to connect with Austin because his journey is honorable. He is not trying to "fix" the people in his life; instead he attempts to open their eyes to the reality of each individual situation. Bostic's narrative is concise, chapters are short, and the story never lags. Her story is sad, like so many others in today's world of YA literature, but it is real and pulls no punches. Put this in the hands of teens who are drawn to contemporary YA fiction. They are the ones who will enjoy this novel the most. Reviewer: Jonatha Basye
Kirkus Reviews
A boy decides he wants to live the last weeks of his life helping others get their own lives into better shape. Unless they read the back cover of the book, readers won't learn until late in the story that 17-year-old Austin is dying of leukemia. Meanwhile, it becomes increasingly clear that Austin, thin and weak, has embarked on some kind of mission. Because he never got his driver's license, he enlists best friend Kaylee to drive him around the Seattle area as he meets with people whom he knows have problems. While Kaylee waits in the car, Austin tries to talk them into making better decisions in their lives. He also treats Kaylee to some Seattle sights and an expensive dinner. Underneath it all, however, Austin looks for the courage to tell Kaylee that he loves her as more than a friend. But will he have time? Bostic writes this graceful, affecting tale without pretension, simply by focusing on Austin himself. She avoids the maudlin, merely writing a boy who knows what he wants and showing his family and his friends as they move toward the final scenes. Perhaps it's because of that simplicity that the story concludes with such a powerful emotional punch. There won't be many dry eyes at the end of this extremely affecting story. (Fiction. 12-17)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547550817
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
01/17/2012
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
204
Sales rank:
608,506
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared—terrified, really. I wake, shooting up, drenched in sweat. Jumping out of bed, I immediately head to my computer.

I need to get some things done this weekend, and I’m running out of time. God, I hope Kaylee can help. What if she asks what I’m doing? I can’t tell her, can I? No. She’d try to stop me, I’m sure of it. Shit, I hope she doesn’t have to work. I should have checked. Without her Mustang, I may not be able to do this, and I want to, I need to. Otherwise, things may just continue as they always have: painful, motionless. Like treading water. You stay afloat, but you never really get anywhere. A flash, a flicker of life, that’s all I want. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

I sit at the computer and stare at the monitor, wondering where to begin. I need to make a list. It’s hard, but soon it all comes rushing to me—people, places, things. Over and over I think of Kaylee. I want her to be there. Need her to be beside me through all of it.

I type until my thoughts die down, come to a stop. I hit print, grab the list, and shove it into the pocket of my jacket, hanging on my closet door. I look in the mirror. I’ve changed so much in the last year, physically, emotionally, mentally. I may be smaller now, but my heart and mind are stronger.

These last few months I’ve come to realize that life doesn’t wait. If we stand still it passes us by, and by the time we understand that, it may be too late. The people I see this weekend—I hope they’re okay with this. I want them to take hold of it and not let go. I hope they at least listen. If they don’t, it will kill me.

I grab a shoebox that’s been sitting in my closet. It held the new pair of green Converse high-tops my mom bought me before the school year started. Cool shoes. I take the lid off the box and put it on my bed. I pack the box with books, CDs, pictures, my poetry notebook, things that are important to me. I won’t have everything I need until Sunday night. On Monday, it goes to Kaylee’s for safekeeping.

It’s late, and I have a full weekend ahead of me. I put the lid back on the shoebox, and place it on the top shelf of my closet. Out of sight. There’s no need for my mom to find it. She wouldn’t understand. I shut off the light and climb back into bed. My body’s tired, but my mind keeps working, churning. I’m anxious, nervous, thinking of what to say, what to do. Sleep comes with difficulty, but in the end, it still comes.

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