Title: Till Death Do Us Part
Author: Lurlene McDaniel
Genre: Young Adult, Romance Fiction
What it’s about: April Lancaster has landed in the hospital over spring break during her senior year of high school due to severe migraines and a blackout in class, which resulted in her boyfriend, Chris, catching her. Afraid that the diagnosis is the same as the one that she had when she was five, April hopes that this time the results will be different. While waiting at the hospital for testing and diagnosis, April meets Mark, a twenty-one year old guy living with cystic fibrosis.
As April diagnosis becomes clearer–the astrocytoma, a rare type of brain cancer, has returned–she isolates herself from her friends and classmates, finding solace in Mark during her radiation treatment. When the news comes that the radiation has stopped April’s tumor, but didn’t shrink it, making it impossible to remove surgically, Mark is the person who understands April.
He proposes to her, and she accepts; however, her parents are against it. April decides to forgo college in Chicago, in favor of enrolling in classes in New York to be closer to Mark and plan her wedding.
On the night of Mark’s final car race of the season, April’s and Mark’s family met at their favorite restaurant to discuss details and plans. Afterwards, they headed to the track, where Mark proceeded to race. During the race, Mark attempts to speed past the lead car, like the hundreds of times he had done before. This time, however, the engine of the lead car blew, and due to his speed, Mark clipped the car’s fender, causing his car to spin out of control, slam into the retaining wall, flip and catch on fire.
Due to his Cystic Fibrosis, Mark is fighting for his life in the hospital and later the ICU. He develops a fever and a pneumonia, from which he will not recover. April fulfills his last wish–to see her in her wedding dress–on his deathbed.
Few months later, April comes out of a depression and with her parents goes to St. Croix for six months, where she hopes to move on and recover.
My Verdict: I think I may have read this book a long long time ago because the story seemed familiar. Then again, most of Lurlene McDaniel’s book are similar, with characters that face grave and fatal illnesses, usually ones that end up with them dying and leaving their loved ones on pain. It’s always cancer, and it’s always a love story. The characters are simplistic, and everything is so cliche–the language, the story, the plot–that it’s hard to finish this book. The girl is this PERFECT little parent’s pet, because they had so much trouble conceiving her, and the parents treat her like glass, but then after the radiation she suddenly becomes a moody teenager at 17. Mark on the other hand has a stalkerish tendency to follow April around until she gives him the first date. I get that you shouldn’t give up on things you really want too easily, and I’m all for that, but that doesn’t mean you need to ask your nurses to find out everything for you just so that you can go find her in a parking lot of a hospital located halfway across the state. That’s just intense, extreme, and a bit unrealistic.
I did enjoy “Don’t Die on Me” by Lurlene McDaniel when I was between middle school and high school, but reading this book now, with the knowledge thousands of other books that are out there with good, unique plots, and good writing, I don’t think I’ll be reading yet another book by this author. I usually don’t like to leave series alone without reading the other books in the series, but I’m not inclined to get more out of this one.
If you’re looking for a book about cancer and living with terminal illness, read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green instead. At least the characters in that book go through some changes and evolve. They meet through a support group and actually become friends because they understand each other.