“Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away. To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.”
Thoughts: How would you react if you found out a loved one was facing a battle against cancer? Would you deny the possible and pretend nothing has changed? Would you immerse yourself into the physician’s recommended regime to optimize the impact of the medicines? Would you distance yourself against the inevitable? When faced with the potential death of a loved one, everyone reacts differently. All These Lives is a poignant and amazing look into one family’s struggle with the news that every family hopes never to hear.
Dani is one heroine with whom all readers will empathize. Her pain is physically palpable. Incredibly, Ms. Wylie uses a dearth of words to create this effect, but she does so with tremendous success. Dani is so convinced that she has nine lives that a reader is never completely sure whether it is a figment of her imagination or not. To say that All These Lives packs an emotional powerhouse is an understatement of the highest magnitude.
All These Lives is a gut-wrenching look at sisterhood and family and the impact of terminal illness on these relationships. Ms. Wylie captures the trauma involved and the various coping mechanisms with perfection. As a result, the reader is taken on an emotional roller coaster as they navigate through Dani’s multiple and conflicting emotions at the possible loss of her sister. It is an amazingly powerful story that lingers with the reader well after the last page.