Lurlene McDaniel is the foremost author of inspirational fiction for young adults. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
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 Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.