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Maybe One Day by Melissa KantorTitle: Maybe One Day
Author: Melissa Kantor
ISBN: 9780062279200
No. of Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult; Fiction
Origins: HarperTeen
Release Date: 18 February 2014
Bottom Line: Best saved for its target audience
Synopsis:

“Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had Big Plans: They’ll tour the world as prima ballerinas and live in a swanky Manhattan apartment (where they’ll hang out with their fabulous boyfriends, of course). But when they’re cut from the ballet company, their plans for the future evaporate. Suddenly, Zoe’s dodging cheerleaders who want her and Olivia to go out for the squad, and Olivia’s got a crush on Calvin Taylor, who Zoe can’t stand.

Zoe can’t imagine anything worse happening . . . until Olivia gets sick. Really sick. Suddenly, not being able to dance is the least of their problems.

Olivia has always been the nice one, the happy-go-lucky one. Zoe has always been the snarky one, the look-on-the-dark-side one. But when your best friend is in the hospital, you better learn to step up fast. Now Zoe needs to put on a brave face and be the positive one. Even when Zoe isn’t sure what to say. Even when Olivia misses months of school. Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this thing, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for Zoe to even imagine.”

Thoughts: I know kids drink and do drugs. I know they make wrong choices and have inappropriate hook-ups. It’s just that I don’t want to always read about it in every single YA novel. As for the whole “growing up is difficult” trope, I have been there and done that, and it takes a special story to make me want to experience it again even via print. Maybe One Day is not that story.

Everything about Zoe’s story feels manipulative. Her feelings about the loss of dance are purposefully twisted and misleading, while the eventual resolution to those feelings is not at all a surprise. Zoe and Olivia’s closer-than-sisters friendship is the stuff of storytelling, while Olivia’s illness and subsequent fate, again no surprising plot twists, feel like deliberate attempts to generate an emotional response in the reader. Meanwhile, Zoe’s reactions to Olivia’s sickness have all the hallmarks of an old-fashioned after-school special. In other words, there is nothing very original or creative about the story.

Yes, Olivia’s illness is tragic and upsetting. Yes, having your childhood dreams dashed is also a character-building occasion. Yes, it is possible to feel guilty moving on with your life when your best friend’s life seems to be coming to a close. However, do all three things really have to occur to prove to readers just how miserable it is to grow up? Does Ms. Kantor need so much bad to make her point? Did she really need to throw in every clichéd action and attitude into the story?

Perhaps the issue is not necessarily the story itself. Olivia is very sick. Zoe must learn to handle that as well as her disappointment at not being able to dance professionally as well as her guilt about falling in love. It makes sense that Zoe would feel so conflicted and confused with all of that happening at the same time. Yet, all of it is happening at the same time, and all of it feels like the end of the world. Zoe’s feelings about dance vie for her emotions regarding Olivia’s sickness, and they really shouldn’t. In fact, one would think that Olivia’s situation would put everything into a reasonable context for Zoe. It does just the opposite. Her inability to prioritize issues is exhausting, and therein lies the real problem with Maybe One Day. One wants to feel emotion while reading a story, but it should be a natural response and not one forced upon a reader.

Life is messy, a fact Ms. Kantor does decently highlight. Zoe learns this fact all too well. Still, after everything she faces during Maybe One Day, she still ends up with a mostly happily-ever-after ending. Things do not end perfectly, but there is a fairy tale quality to the entire story, and especially within its conclusion, that makes the emotional manipulation more understandable while doing nothing to make it more palatable. If anything, it is easy to excuse Maybe One Day for being escapist fare for teens in order so they can realize how lucky they are not to have to face all of the same challenges Zoe faces. However, adult readers have moved beyond such stereotypes and will find Maybe One Day to be paltry storytelling filled with one too many archetypes.

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