When courage and resilience are needed

TITLE = ZAC & MIA 

AUTHOR = A J BETTS

GENRE = ILLNESS, FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIPS, DEATH & DYING

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 – 12

Zac and Mia are both suffering from cancer. Zac is an old hand at this, given that his leukaemia was diagnosed some time ago. He has been through several unsuccessful bouts of chemo and now he is back in hospital having a bone marrow transplant, which means he is in isolation: only doctors, nurses and his mum can visit him whilst his body recovers. Zac seems tolerant and practical about his condition and where it has left him (currently playing endless games of scrabble with his mum!) but he has also done his research and knows the cancer stats. He knows his odds of survival have been reduced by the failure of the initial treatment.

He also knows that the odds for Mia are much better. Mia is the newbie on the ward and the 2 teens hook up via FaceBook where Zac tells her she is lucky (because her type of cancer is treatable and survivable). However, Mia doesn’t see herself as lucky. In fact she seems determined to fight the doctors, her mum and the facts about her illness. There is no mention of her cancer or treatment on her FaceBook page so her friends are clueless about what she is going through. And she seems to know little about her condition too – freaking out when she starts to lose her hair. Can Zac help Mia through her treatment … or does Mia have lessons in store for Zac??

This story is told by the 2 teens themselves. The first third is in Zac’s calm voice but then Mia takes over  5 months later and we see from her point of view, what life has been like for her and how Zac and his family are coping. Can she really run away from her cancer and will Zac want to follow her?

A moving and compelling book about a difficult topic (almost as good as John Green’s amazing “The Fault in our Stars” – why not read this if you haven’t already – a review can be found here)

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Gold Inky award.

Deb Marshall  (Highly recommended) *****

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