cover image Never Eighteen

Never Eighteen

Megan Bostic. Harcourt, $7.99 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-0-547-55076-3

In Bostic’s melodramatic debut novel, 17-year-old Austin Parker, who is dying from leukemia, embarks on an exhilarating weekend journey through the Seattle area with his best friend/crush, Kaylee. Austin is determined to visit everyone who has touched his life and dole out wakeup calls to those who aren’t living life to the fullest. He visits the mother of a friend who died, an ex-girlfriend in an abusive relationship, various family members, and others, interspersed with trips to a fair, a keg party, the Space Needle, and Mt. Rainier. The brief episodes unfold at warp speed, weakening their believability and impact; despite the painful circumstances in their lives, Austin’s acquaintances open up to him immediately during his surprise visits in dramatic, expository conversations (“The old Allie died that day, on the sticker bushes, right along with her virginity and her self-respect,” says a friend who was raped). Sensitive, selfless, and nonthreatening, Austin comes across more as a wise-beyond-his-years guru than an authentic teen—teenage girls will shed tears over his inevitable death, but male readers will be hard pressed to identify with him. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)