Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away. To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.
When I saw this book, I immediately thought the premise sounded interesting and I added to my TBR. Luckily, it did not disappoint. The elements of sisters, family, friendship, and illness all made this book amazing.
First, there was the main character Dani. She is not the nicest character all the time. She teases a boy at school and she can be rather mean to those who care about her. Despite this, I really loved reading about her character. She had become broken due to her twin sister, Jena's, illness. She is so determined to do anything to save her sister, even at her own expense. The whole nine lives idea was interesting. I wonder how she was able to survive all her self-destruction with only one life.
Then there was the family relationship. It was obvious how close Dani and Jena were. Their love for each other shone through in scenes in the present and in flashbacks. Jena knew that Dani was up to something, and she wanted Dani to live just as much as Dani wanted Jena to live. I loved the scene where Dani realized that instead of trying to do die for Jena, she should try to live for Jena. The parents each had their own way of coping. The mom became Jena's nurse. She constantly worried about Jena's health, but she tried not to ignore Dani. Dani's dad tried to stay involved in their lives. He went out grocery shopping and drove Dani to auditions. He seemed like a good guy who cared about his daughters.
I also should mention Jack Penner. He was a boy from school whom Dani has known for years. Dani enjoyed teasing him by calling him "hot stuff" and "sweet thang." Jack was a sweet, nerdy boy who really seemed to care about Dani. He interpreted her name-calling as flirting, which led to a few awkward moments between the two. There was a little romance between the two, and one kiss, but their relationship was mainly a sweet friendship.
If you like YA contemporary that is both light and heavy at the same time, read this book.