cover image All These Lives

All These Lives

Sarah Wylie. FSG/Ferguson, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-30208-5

Wylie's memorable first novel candidly addresses an impending death with witty, poetic language. Ever since surviving a car crash and a chest infection as a child, 16-year-old Dani has been told that she's a miracle. Dani interprets her fortitude as evidence that she literally has nine lives. But Dani's twin, Jena, is dying from leukemia, and Dani thinks her parents are acting disturbingly normal under the circumstances. Dani distances herself from her straight-talking best friend, bullies her nerdy crush, numbly attends therapy sessions, and parties hard, using her caustic sense of humor to disguise her helplessness. She persuades herself that by ridding herself of her extra "lives," she can transfer them to her sister. The striking prologue prepares readers for one of Dani's suicide attempts, which take place in each of the book's nine sections, creating an excruciatingly tense countdown. Though Dani's belief about having nine lives isn't fully developed, Wylie gives voice to a spectrum of emotions associated with grief, her heroine's indignation over the injustice of death lancing through any hint of sentimentality. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (June)