Rating: 3.5 stars

I want to give a thank you to NetGalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review!

In that one moment her perfect, prima-ballerina, pink-tutu world fell off its pointe. She wasn’t Cason Marting, prima ballerina, anymore. She was Cason Martin, number T7654908, cancer patient.”

This is Kati Gardner’s debut novel, and I will say that this was very enjoyable to read and that after reading this discovering that the author has gone through similar experiences since she has gone through cancer.

This book tells the story of a girl named Cason who has the love and passion for ballet but then is suddenly ripped from her when she discovers that she has cancer. It also tells a story about Davis, a boy who once had cancer. However, he also had an addiction to narcotics and at the beginning of the novel is seven months sober.

I think that the message behind the overall story is strong and very well on point. However, I felt as though the emotions were a bit lacking mostly early on. I didn’t feel any emotion until halfway through this novel, and even then not much after.

After the prologue, it felt vague to me and didn’t set up the characters emotions for how they responded to everything previous to how the chapters started. I also felt the characters lacked depth and development. This book is very dialogue driven and doesn’t particularly express the full emotions of the characters.

As an example, Cason goes through a lot of emotions throughout her cancer treatment, and it explains it, but not in a sense to make us really feel in depth of that moment. Or when Davis is having a very bad craving for drugs, it feels flat and rushed.

The relationship between Cason and Davis isn’t what I felt should have happened. I didn’t like the insta-love that happened between them. I also was very confused when they discussed that they were boyfriend and girlfriend because I didn’t recall that happening previous to that. My personal opinion is that there wasn’t too much of a need for romance in this book. I love romance in books, but in this special occasion, I felt as though they both just needed a friend to be there and help each other through the hard times.

“No one has to know. The words itched and slid around the synapses, shocking his impulses, filling his mouth with a desire so strong it stole his breath. It left him empty and hollow. And still, lingering in the deepest parts of his brain. It whispered. Just one.”

I really appreciated the relationship between Cason and her mother, Natalie towards the end of the book. I didn’t like Natalie that much in the beginning because she refused to accept the truth of what is happening. I saw character development through her mom, which was nice.

The camp experience, I felt was talked about a lot throughout this book, but in the end at camp, it felt flat to me. It was rushed, like last minute planning to incorporate the details, and I was expecting something greater than it had turned out.

The side characters also felt kind of flat, but I think they were a good addition to the story because they helped Cason and Davis through their struggles throughout the story, so I enjoyed that.

On this last note, I will also mention the characters on Davis’s side, Ethan and Alexis, and how real the situation can be. In Alexis’s standpoint, unfortunately, this is very common to happen to someone, especially when they’re addicted. Whenever the relationship between either Ethan or Alexis came up to Davis, it felt unrealistic or flat or even maybe a rushed thought.

Overall, I didn’t think this was the best book, nor was it the worst, but I do think that for a debut novel, it’s good. I think this should be read because other people could possibly relate and it also has a good meaning, and maybe this wasn’t a book for me, but it could be for someone else.

“They were no longer the same people they had been before camp. Davis seemed calmer somehow, more settled in himself. And she remembered how angry and fearful she had been. She couldn’t say that camp had made all of those feelings go away, but she could say that she no longer felt confined by the crutches and a new prosthesis. Together they started to walk away from the amphitheater toward the chapel where the older half of camp waited. Davis held onto her arm just above her elbow, keeping their connection. Cason glanced back at the stage, looking at the billowing silks one last time. She had not just danced. She had flown.”

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