TItle: Maybe One Day
Author: Melissa Kantor
Publication: February 18, 2014 by HarperTeen
Format, pages: Hardback, 400
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Age Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Critically acclaimed author Melissa Kantor masterfully captures the joy of friendship, the agony of loss, and the unique experience of being a teenager in this poignant new novel about a girl grappling with her best friend’s life-threatening illness.
Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.
Even when she isn’t sure what to say.
Even when Olivia misses months of school.
Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia’s crush.
The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.
In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
What if the person you loved most in the world was crumbling right before your very eyes, and you were essentially helpless to do anything to save them?
That is the dilemma we are presented as our main character, Zoe, a former dancer kicked out of her dance program several months before the start of the novel, is told that her best friend Olivia has been diagnosed with leukemia.
I know some of you, if you’re anything like me, are done with the oversaturated “cancer story” genre that seems to have been given a revival ever since the release of The Fault in Our Stars (and then further revived with the movie release in a few months). I simply do not find cancer books all that interesting to read about. My great-grandmother, aunt and two uncles have died from cancer, and the topic just isn’t something I like to read exploited in my literature, which I feel as though many books tend to do.
I think if I had to pinpoint my biggest issue with these books, is the discussions about life, which, if you’ve read TFiOS, you know is basically the entire plot. I find that the use of cancer to spark these discussions is highly pretentious, emotionally manipulative, and whatever else you want to add in there. You obviously should include something about life in these books, since it’s such a precarious situation, whether or not the person lives, but I don’t need it constantly shoved down my throat to show how “deep” and “philosophical” these people are.
I can’t say Melissa Kantor’s Maybe One Day is an original book. Because, to be honest, it’s not. You could probably read several books quite similar to it, and maybe even of greater quality. But I love that this book flips the idea that a cancer book has to be all about cancer or some end-all relationship about infinities (sorry, but I could take jabs at TFiOS for days). It’s about friendship, and how everyday life is altered, and how even the most mundane of things can be missed, such as not having to wear a surgical mask before you go near a person for fear that they could be carrying a germ that could end your life.
Zoe is hardly a likeable character, and many readers have already complained about her personality, and I expect many other readers probably won’t even finish the book because of her. I won’t lie, I seriously considered it myself around the 40-45% mark. She’s extremely judgmental of other people, particularly the cheerleaders at her school. It’s not that these people weren’t annoying at times, but that’s only because Kantor felt this need to characterize them as flimsy stereotypes, and only occasionally treaded on the idea that they could be something more. However, during the latter act of the novel, her judging is kept to a minimum and focuses more so on the story at hand.
And does Kantor really expect me to believe that sixteen year old girl doesn’t know that leukemia is cancer? I’ve known this information since before I was ten.
This is also a reasonably long novel, and I don’t know if enough happens to justify a 400-page length. Easily 50 pages probably could be eliminated to trim this down to a much more reasonable length, but I was able to get through it quickly enough considering life was pretty hectic during my reading.
At the core of this novel though, is the friendship between Zoe and Olivia. Don’t let this novel mislead you into thinking that it’s about Zoe and her attraction to Calvin, who is Olivia’s crush. Such a small portion of the book is actually about that, and the resolution of it all is with so little drama that I can’t believe the marketing for this book even tried to build off of it.
No, this is about a girl and the person who has always been by their side, who was there through heartbreak, the highs and the lows, who she has shared everything with, no matter how painful or embarrassing. This is about how one day you have to look into that person’s face and contemplate the fact that this person could very well be gone in a few months time. How you’ll have to watch them slowly disintegrate before your eyes, altered physically and emotionally then the person they once were. Zoe isn’t always the best friend to Olivia, and she does things that I personally would never do to my own friends, but the relationship between the two is so poignant, it’s essentially the thing that makes this particular novel stand out in my mind.
I won’t say that if you read this book, your life will be changed. I’m not even saying that you’ll like it. All I’m saying is that I personally found something unique in a genre of beaten-to-death cliches, and that’s all I ever really ask for with books like this.
Other books by Melissa Kantor:
• If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? (September, 2005)
• Confessions of a Not It Girl (May, 2006)
• The Breakup Bible (May, 2007)
• Girlfriend Material (May, 2009)
• Invisible I (September, 2009)
• The Darlings Are Forever (January, 2011)