I love independent authors, I make no secret of that. So when the opportunity to be a stop on the Never Goodbye blog tour came up, I jumped at the chance to support an indie author. Upon starting the book, I was surprised to find that it falls into the young adult genre–why I didn’t know this before I began reading, we will just chalk up to me being me. But readers, whether you’re a young adult or an adult adult–be prepared to cry. I did. Several times. I’d be reading and the tears would just somehow, show up. So kudos to Kerri Williams because generally speaking, I’m not a crier.
Never Goodbye is the story of Harper Kennedy, a high-school teenager who lives a happy existence in Seattle, Washington with her parents and younger brother, Benny. All of that is turned upside down when a car accident leaves her mother in a catatonic state and her family moves to Albany, Missouri to be near her aunt and cousin for familial support; because to add insult to injury, Harper has just been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and only has a short time to live.
Not necessarily a happy premise but after reading the author’s intro about her own struggle with cancer at the beginning of the book, you gain some insight into the heroine. And since this is a young adult book, there is definitely teenage ‘drama’ and ‘angst’ to liven things up and make you remember changing for gym class, being in the hall after the bell rings, and of course, hoping the boy or girl you had a crush on notices you. In Harper’s case, he does notice her, and his name is Vaun Campbell.
Vaun doesn’t have the best reputation due to the ‘difficult’ period he went through after his mother passed away. His rich father seems perpetually disappointed in him for one reason or another. His step-mother is visibly absent due to the tension in the household. But he seems to get along relatively well with his step-brother, Luke. Vaun’s devil-may-care attitude is changed for the better when he meets Harper. Their love story is both touching and poignant.
There’s no escaping the underlying sadness that belies this book. But there’s also a lot warmth, reality, and humor. After all, the things that come out of 10-year old Benny’s mouth…kids are funny. These are children, young adults, and adults alike, that have been through some very grown up ordeals and are dealing with some intense situations and realities. The first portion of the book moved a little slow because Harper was hesitant, for good reason, to tell Vaun about her cancer. However, once he knows, things really take off, and I found myself staying up until 2am to finish the book–and on a school night no less!
Kerri Williams manages to draw out gut wrenching emotion from the reader. I would find it hard to believe that everyone hasn’t been affected by cancer in some capacity, even if it’s as removed as knowing someone who knows someone who has the Big C; but for most, it hits a lot closer to home.
Will I be wrestling teenagers at the library for the latest YA release? Hmmm… I do know I will be reading the next Albany Boys book from Kerri Williams. The supporting characters have enough depth and mystery that you want to know how their individual stories play out. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some of the old characters in the forthcoming books. I will let you know!