If you want your heart broken, pieced together and shattered again in only 288 pages, Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis is the one for you.
The story revolves around two patients with cystic fibrosis, Stella Grant and Will Newman, and their battle against this disease. Stella does everything she can to keep her health in order in order to get a lung transplant, whereas Will is tired of going from hospital to hospital and is trying to live his life to the fullest. They slowly fall in love with each other but they must stay six feet apart in order not to jeopardise each other’s health, and that feels like a punishment to both of them.
What is truly amazing about this book is that it brings awareness to cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects so many people but has no cure. I especially love that the story brings up information about CF that people with the disease might not know. For example, people with CF cannot get too close to each other as it poses a risk to their own health due to bacterial infections.
I enjoyed reading this book because I love the realness of the characters and the shifting viewpoints of the two protagonists, Stella and Will. What made the characters in this book so sympathetic and true to me was discovering how they each addressed their plight. For Stella, she concentrated on being well for the sake of her two parents whose marriage crumbled due to a devastating loss that shook the foundation of their family. Will, on the other hand, was more immersed in getting out of the hospital and being able to live his life to the amplest since he was dying anyway. He was tired of wasting all of his days in the hospital and couldn’t wait to turn 18 so he could be done with hospital stays for good. I felt myself praising these two teens as they struggled with being together while maintaining their own safety.
But at the same time, there are some problems I had with the plot itself too that I do need to talk about. I wasn’t fond of the love-at-first-sight that transpired between Stella and Will. It’s a common trope you see in YA lit that I feel is a cliche and I was unhappy to see it in this book too. While I realize why the connection starts, I felt like it was a little utopian in this story because of what these characters are struggling with. I also wonder slightly about the exactness of cystic fibrosis in this book. I don’t have cystic fibrosis so I know I can’t speak for those who do, but if there’s inaccuracy in this book, it would be nice to learn about.
Altogether, I adore this book in its entirety. I admire that this book strives to bring this illness to people’s attention. It might not be done correctly, but I respect the effort. I highly suggest this novel to those enthusiastic of learning more about cystic fibrosis and also to those who appreciate a good young adult romance and wish to read fiction with emotional characters.
By Yukta Baid