(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Also by this author: Invisible Ghosts
Published by HarperCollins on May 26th 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Friendship, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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.
Lane, is seventeen, an overachiever and diagnosed with tuberculosis. His arrival at Latham House, a sanatorium for kids suffering from this incurable strain of TB, kicks off this story.
Latham House isn’t exactly what you might expect… it’s part boarding school, part hospital where the kids inside the walls are expected to take naps and rest and follow their rules regarding health, but have a lot of leeway in regards to the school work.
When Lane arrives he’s determined to still maintain his ‘normal’ life outside the walls… that means keeping up on his school work from his regular school and keeping his girlfriend, only there is no expectation as to when a cure for this strain of TB may be found and things of course don’t exactly go as planned.
Lane quickly realizes one of the girls at Latham is someone he knew years ago, and Sadie isn’t exactly the girl he remembers. She leads an eclectic group of kids who don’t exactly follow the rules and he’s fascinated by her. As he gradually is welcomed into the group they reveal all their secrets some as innocuous as stealing internet … others… not so much. As they spend more and more time together, Lane and Sadie find themselves falling in love and making plans for a future that isn’t guaranteed for either of them.
I really enjoy Schneider’s story telling. She manages to take very serious topics and add just enough humor to still keep it tasteful… you know going into this that there is bound to be some tragedy, I mean all these kids that you’re meant to bond with have an incurable form of TB and while you can see some of the tragedy coming, (I found I couldn’t stop turning pages to get to it) other aspects will definitely catch you off guard.
The story is told in alternating points of view from Lane & Sadie and it was definitely a plus. I liked seeing both sides of this story and relationship develop. Lane as the new kid and Sadie as someone who’s been at Latham longest… watching friends come and go, both as their cured and as they pass on.
But this story wouldn’t be a story without a bit of heartache and Schneider does this wonderfully. Where this book really excelled for me was the relationships between the characters. Not only do we get to know Lane and Sadie but we also get to experience the secondary characters, which makes some of the hard stuff later on a bit harder to swallow. I love that we get to see the growth of Lane’s relationships with not only Sadie, someone he knew prior to arriving, but also with her friends. While Lane had a couple friends prior to his illness, it seemed he focused more on his school work than his relationships… without that competitiveness to focus on, it was lovely to see him put effort in getting to know everyone and see those relationships develop.
Sadie on the other hand took this opportunity at Latham to be someone she really wasn’t. She reinvented herself and became someone she always wanted to be, but for some reason couldn’t be at home. She dreaded the day that the doctor would tell her that she was well enough to go home.
The story itself definitely kept me hooked, the group of friends sneak out often and have some amazing and fun times and I think that really helped with lightening up the mood of this story. The almost terminal feel of their illnesses could really have made this story feel heavier so I was glad that it wasn’t as sad as it probably could have been.
Overall, another amazing story from Robyn Schneider… (If you haven’t read The Beginning of Everything, then you definitely must, it was among my favorite reads last year. ) If you’re looking for a story of first love, romance, friendship, and second chances with a bit of heartbreak, definitely grab this one when it arrives!
Thank you to HarperCollins for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.