Mia’s not your typical hospital patient. Her next door neighbor Zac can hear her fighting with her mom and the nurses through their shared wall and he wishes she’d get over herself. But soon they are trading messages that evolve into a bond neither sees coming.
Apart from illness, they have little in common: she’s a gorgeous girl with an entourage of perfect friends and he’s a soccer-playing farm boy. In the real world, these two seventeen year-olds would have little to say to each other, but in the hospital the usual rules no longer apply.
By the time Zac is discharged, Mia is gone too, and he wonders about her. Is she okay? Is she better? He can’t find out. She’s left Facebook and won’t answer his texts. Until the night he hears a tap at his window.
Told in alternating perspectives, Zac and Mia tracks the relationship of two ordinary teenagers in exceptional circumstances. They’re both in remission, but cancer has changed everything, and normal isn’t normal anymore. This is a funny and tender novel about hope, love, and courage.
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have to admit I have been excited to read this book for quite some time. I also have to admit that while I liked it… I didn’t love it.
I know a lot of you are going to immediately compare this to TFIOS when you read the summary, but that wouldn’t be giving the story a fair chance. Is this about teens dealing with cancer? Yes. Is it the same type of story? No. In Zac & Mia, we meet Zac first. He’s been battling his cancer for quite some time… he knows all about the comings and goings in the hospital he’s trapped in and when Mia arrives in a whirlwind of fighting with her mother and lady gaga on repeat, he’s intrigued by her.
I have to say… My struggles stem from connecting with these characters. While I found Zac sweet and kind and pretty much completely lovely, he fell a bit flat for me. Mia on the other side of the coin was so hard to like it’s almost intentional. While I was reading I tried to take her attitude and such into context with her illness, and dealing with the things she’s dealing with at her age, but I still found it a struggle to care one bit about her.
That said, we eventually find out some things about Mia that may change your initial feelings about her… I know I found myself feeling a tiny bit guilty about not loving her.
What I will say is this. I found the contrasts to Zac and Mia’s lives really well done and the eventual bond that they form is believable and understandable. This one was definitely something I thought might be forgettable during the first half of the story, but the end is what made me change my mind. With an ending that is definitely a tiny bit bittersweet but filled with hope, give this book a try if you’re looking for a different take on the a story about kids and cancer.
Thanks to HarperCollins for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.