Title: Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Genre/Themes: Young Adult Contemporary, Living with Illness, Falling in Love
Blurb from Goodreads
When he’s sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.
But when he meets Sadie and her friends – a group of eccentric troublemakers – he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn’t have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure.
Interesting premise following a group of teens afflicted with a drug resistant strain of TB that are isolated from the rest of modern society and made to live in a sanitarium named Latham House.
The book explores issues of morality and self-worth but also the views of able-bodied society on those who are ill.
However the characters felt a little flat.
The story alternated in points of view between Lane, a new arrival at the sanitarium, and Sadie, its longest dweller.
Because the plot mainly followed Lane’s story (his recent diagnosis, his past life, his struggle to fit in at Latham House etc.) he felt more realistic as a character.
Whereas Sadie felt like she was written in the more manic pixie dream girl style and was there purely to give depth to Lane’s story.
At times I felt this book also became rather maudlin than the dark humour that was promised. And ultimately it was all rather predictable with an ending that was basically gifted to the reader with a nice shiny red bow from the start.
There were also a number of unhelpful stereotypes about how some people deal with long term illness that could have been handled with more of a deft touch.
A quick reading book that was relatively enjoyable as I read it but in the end it’s all rather forgettable.
“You’ll get better soon,” Hannah said, like she had some authority on the matter. “And then everything will go back to normal.”
“Right,” I said. “Normal.”
Except Latham was new normal now. And being healthy, being okay, wouldn’t feel normal at all. It would feel incredible.
“Here is a secret,” I said. “There is a difference between being dead and dying. We are all dying. Some of us die for 90 years, and some of us die for 19. But each morning everyone on this planet wakes up one day closer to their death. Everyone. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it.”
“I’m going to miss you guys,” Marina said, stopping to catch her breath.
“Don’t say that,” I told her. “You’re not allowed to mourn the future.”
Lane, who was drumming on the bongo, stopped.
“Isn’t that what we all do, though?” He asked.… “I mean it. We mourn the future because it’s easier than admitting that we’re miserable in the present.”