NEVER EIGHTEEN by Megan Bostic
“There are some things I want to do, some crazy things, some wild things, some fun things, things I’ve never done, thing’s I’ve never seen.”
Austin must take a journey that will change him and those in his life forever; only he is not completely sure of the journey and needs to convince his best friend, Kaylee, to go with him. Austin is on a quest to fulfill some dreams and to ensure those he loves, and those he has hurt, will change the stagnant lives he believes they are in and start living fully, something he cannot do The two head out in Glory/China/Cherry/Blaze/finally Candy, Kaylee’s red 1969 Ford Mustang with the ever-changing name. This is a weekend neither Austin nor Kaylee will ever forget.
Austin is dying..
I was torn while reading this story. The journey of this terminally ill teen trying to, experience more in this one weekend than most do in a lifetime was promising. Knowing his tomorrows are few, Austin tries to get everyone’s life at the point he wants them to be instead of accepting them as the are. He tries to making amends, tries to inspire and tries to love all in 48 hours. This is really quite a handful, for both the teen and the author.
Many times Austin sounded pretentious and arrogant and I wanted to throw the book and read something else. Other times he was naïve and wistful, sounding and acting much too young for a 17 year old. Then he could be sweet and thoughtful, especially with Kaylee and his mother. In theory, this is a tearjerker that should make you think about your own life and if you are wasting time.
Austin does not come to life, despite all the aforementioned emotions. He sounds spoiled and sometimes like a school bully. Then I found out that he was the school bully and I began to understand Austin . . . for a moment. Kaylee is simply a taxi, driving from place to place, waiting in the car as Austin makes his rounds, sometimes leaving her there for an hour, sometimes more (though it never feels like Austin’s visits last more than a couple of minutes). Kaylee endures this an entire weekend from sun up to past sunset. What is Austin’s reason? He feels he has no right to invite Kaylee inside where she would become privy to the person’s sometimes deepest, darkest secret, explaining that the secrets are theirs to share, not his.
Interesting, considering Austin has no problem forcing these people to talk about their secrets, even yelling at one, demanding he reach deep and explain a secret the teen did not want to talk about. When he finally could no longer fight Austin, he gave in and answered the best he could. Austin calls him a liar and again yells. How in the world can Austin know how this kid feels or why he did something extremely out of character, when the teen himself does not really know?
Austin certifies himself psychiatrist with many of his victim-visitors, pushing into places he had no right to enter. “You can’t refuse a dying teen’s request,” he says. I would have enjoyed this “filled-with-possibilities” story if Austin had stayed in car while Kaylee made the visits. The idea is to identify with the characters, usually the protagonist. I could not do this. For personal reason I will not expound on, Austin is the one character I should have identified with and could not. This is one story I will not be picking up for a second read.
Note: received from Net Galley, courtesy of the publisher