Author: Robyn Schneider
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 5/26/2015
Read All About It:
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this darkly funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Beginning of Everything.
Up until his diagnosis, Lane lived a fairly predictable life. But when he finds himself at a tuberculosis sanatorium called Latham House, he discovers an insular world with paradoxical rules, med sensors, and an eccentric yet utterly compelling confidante named Sadie—and life as Lane knows it will never be the same.
Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful story about the miracles of first love and second chances.
I have to give this book a four star rating, because it is authentic and takes a surprising route to its tear-jerker ending, but I found it really similar to The Fault in Our Stars and a bit predictable. Wait, it is authentic and similar to John Green’s books? How is that possible? Well, I’ll tell you.
Robyn Schneider is a bioethicist and knows an incredible amount about tuberculosis and the symptoms people would suffer from if there actually was a completely drug-resistant strand. Because of this, the symptoms each character has and the way they deal with death in the Latham House are even more depressing. Lane does the math about how many people died living in his room and we see other characters barely react to rooms being cleaned after residents “check out” since it is such a common occurrence.
What helps create the depressingly numb feeling is following Lane as he realizes that he is dying. In the beginning he is an incredibly driven student that plans to use his time at Latham as a chance to get ahead and stand out on college applications. He has an entire plan to return home and graduate on time. The more time he spends there, we see him begin to realize that going home is not in his life plan and grades don’t matter as much if you’re going to die before graduation.
That sounds depressing, who would want to read that? Luckily, Sadie is there to balance out Lane. Sadie has been at the house a lot longer than him and isn’t letting it get her down. She runs the black market there, bringing in all the goods that teens could want but aren’t allowed to have because of Latham’s restrictions. For some residents this just means a candy supply, while for Sadie’s group it supplies their drunken nights in the woods. Although flawed like the other characters, she has a sense of humor that makes it easy to focus on the character’s relationships, not just their situation. A book about dying teens trying to have fun makes it easy to guess that someone will die or get in trouble though.
Overall, it was still fun to read! I loved seeing Lane grow as a character and how impactful having a terminal diagnosis can be on how teens approach life. It had a lighter approach to deep topics such as love, death, and diseases than I expected. This is a great read if you’re looking for a sad book without having to haul a tissue box around.