Zac y Mia by AJ Betts, a Reader’s Advisory

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Young adult books sometimes cover difficulties that don’t seem too intense when we reach adult age; that crush you had in ninth grade seemed monumental at the time, but now you can mostly handle that sort of thing.  There’s nothing wrong with these sorts of stories, but there’s often a layer of realization that, even if things don’t work out, everyone is probably going to be okay.

Every so often, though, a YA book comes along that puts the characters in actual life-threatening circumstances.  The Fault in Our Stars was such a success, in part, because it put illness in the path of innocence–yes, romantic tension, family issues, and general teen angst were all there, but the main focus remained on ultimate loss.

Zac & Mia deals with the same issues.  Both Australian teenagers are just old enough to be admitted in the adult cancer ward; Zac is a quiet and contemplative kid, while Mia is defined primarily with her unquenchable rage towards her situation (and life in general).

One thing that sets this book apart is that the characters are purposely a little unlikable.  They’re often negative, rude, and selfish–yet, somehow, in the midst of altering diagnoses, this gray look into something that’s so often treated in black-and-white terms.  It’s a story focusing on friendships instead of romance; raw emotions instead of cliched answers; real life instead of exaggerated circumstances.  Zac continually puts his situation in perspective by following the story of a rover exploring a new planet, pondering the fact that humanity can understand the vast cosmos but still hasn’t found a cure to cancer.

This title is purposely universal, meant to be enjoyed by anyone who picks it up.  This new copy, however, is also available in Spanish–along with several other Spanish titles currently being introduced into our New YA collection.

Thanks for reading! -Autumn

Be sure to check our digital collection for ebook and digital audiobook availability (available for your smartphone or tablet).

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