Zac and Mia - A.J. Betts

Unlike the last book I read, this was a compelling, fast read. Of course I picked it from NetGalley because it was pitched as an Australian Fault in our Stars, or maybe that’s just how I interpreted the summary. But, judging by some of the comments on goodreads, I think that pitch may harm what for me was a moving story, very similar in theme but entirely different. Can we only have one teen book about cancer? We have thousands of books about war; there must be some room for this without taking anything away from the others. For something that affects so many people, there is surprisingly little written about cancer for this age group.


So again, I am not a teen reading or reviewing this, so I offer a little distance. I do, however, know the subject matter fairly intimately, and I thought the author did an amazing job describing the isolation, fear and loss that a person with leukemia suffers. I can be honest, since I don’t think too many teens read this blog (!) and say that I thought this book, in it’s realism and it’s honesty, was better than FIOS. The characters were more real to me — they didn’t have trendy obsessions or perfect banter. Their texts were strewn with weird auto-corrected typos, and many times their responses to a difficult question didn’t get beyond an initial “um”. Their relationship was unique and original.


In truth, they were not as camera-ready as those other two everyone knows so well by now. They were not perfect characters, or perfectly written. They were gritty and scared, liars and cheats. They did not live perfect lives, or come from perfect families. But there can be more than one story about teens with cancer, and this book offers the perfect reason why.