This is a stirring story of heart crushing proportions. Two families stricken by cancer. The impossible tragedy of mercy killing. An appreciation for life. Eighteen year old Cancer Boy, Jem, and his Social Studies partner, Willa, are so perfectly developed and well-imagined, their lives just take over and happen to you. It's quite an experience, one that isn't ashamed to wring tears by obvious means. This would be a five star masterpiece if it weren't for the astoundingly tedious chronicle of school, homework, and dinner preparations. At three times the length of an average novel, it needs some serious trimming. By the end, however, the accumulated weight and inertia of the story succeeds to invest Jem and Willa's coming-of-age destiny with significance. The image of the sickly and fragile Jem will linger long after the book is read. Combine that with Willa's courageous narrative and you have a wildly sentimental and beautiful account of surviving cancer. Note: There's not much of the sexy stuff you'd expect for modern YA, but there are a number of explicit sexual situations. Intercourse, as it occurs, is hidden behind the curtain. This is more an emotional drama with romance as the sub-plot.