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Only The Good Die Young
“The bravest thing any of us can do isn’t love,” he says. “The bravest thing we can do is let other people love us.” ~Callum
by K.K. Hendin is the story of a young woman, only eighteen years of age, struggling to cope with and battle the nasty beast that is breast cancer. At the age of eighteen life is just beginning. How would one cope with being told that they may not survive to see nineteen? Not everyone can grasp onto hope and love. Sometimes it is simply easier to wallow in the pits of despair rather than try to find the energy to look for that silver lining.
“Slowly and surely, cancer was stealing any part of me that I had. It had stolen my life. It had stolen my friends. It had stolen what was left of my family.”
Milcah Daniels was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer during her first year of college. A time in her life where she is supposed to be experimenting, acting foolishly and living life to the fullest has turned into a nightmare filled with chemotherapy, weight loss, hair loss and a double mastectomy. In her hopelessness and sorrow, Milcah finds it hard to see any good in her life. She is bitter, cold and in absolute misery. When Milcah finds herself being discharged from the hospital, she does not leave with the intention of taking on the world. No. She wants to live like she is dead already only to be commemorated by getting some tattoos. What she was not expecting was to find a tattoo artist who made her libido awaken with a vengeance. For the first time in a long time, Milcah is wanting something she knows she can’t have. I mean, what’s the point when her prognosis is not looking good? Why dive into the unknown when your life may end at any time even if the unknown is a gorgeous tattooed guy who is turning her life inside out.
I had a hard time warming up to Milcah. Sure I was sympathetic to her plight. I can’t even imagine how scary and difficult it would be to deal with any form of cancer. But, with this being stated, she was just so mean and bitter. She closed herself off to everything and everyone that was good in her life. I really had a difficult time with this at first as I am more of an optimist always looking for the good in a bad situation. When I finally sat down to think about it all, however, I came around to understanding where Milcah was coming from. First off, she is only eighteen years of age so a sulky and hostile attitude comes with the territory. Further, she has friggin’ cancer! She was simply coping the best way she knew how to. Once I accepted this I did warm up to Milcah’s character quite a bit and I think the author did a great job realistically portraying how a young woman would deal with the harsh hand of cancer. “Everyone’s dying, Milcah. Some people are just dying sooner than others.”
Callum Scott was exactly the right person to bring Milcah out from under the desolate stupor that she was living under. He challenged her in so many ways determined to break through the walls that she had erected around herself. Milcah spent so much time focusing on her impending death that she simply forgot that she still had some living to do. Callum was there to take her hand and teach her how to start living once again. I sort of wish the author had spent more time cementing a more profound bond between Milcah and Callum. Just when I felt like they were making some progress and moving in the right direction, a huge plot bang is thrown in and then the books ends with lovely declarations but not much depth. Perhaps if I felt like the bond between Milcah and Callum had been more solidified, it would have made the ending more believable and satisfying.
Despite the somber tone of the book, there were some witty dialogue exchanges that had me laughing out loud, particularly between Milcah and Callum. I definitely appreciated the humorous and light-hearted moments or else the book would have felt too heavy. One of my favorite exchanges between Milcah and Callum is this one:
“What about grown up drinks?”
“Nope. Juice, soda or milkshake.”
“Well, if I have a milkshake, will it bring all the boys to my yard?”
All in all, Only The Good Die Young
was an enjoyable book that takes on a challenging and very real topic. We often neglect to really see the ramifications of what it means to stare death in the face. It can be extremely hard to focus on living when one is dealing with something that is slowly taking their life day by day. To the individuals that are able to strive forward and conquer, I commend their strength and perseverance. Milcah was a young woman forced to come face to face with a potentially life ending monster. In her darkest hour she was able to push forward and realize that pushing away family, love and friendships was killing her as much as the cancer was. When it all comes down to the heart of the matter family, love and friendship are things that we desire and need no matter whether you get to experience them for many years or just a few.****An advanced reading copy of Only The Good Die Young by K.K. Hendin was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review.