Release day for Vanessa Barneveld’s YA novella, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG, is here! This quick read is full of heartbreak and hope. Vanessa will donate half of the profits from the sale of her novella to a charity that supports young people dealing with cancer. So make sure you pick up LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG. It’s only 99 cents at these e-tailers:
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Read on for the summary and excerpt…
He has six months to live. She has six months to save him…
Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.
Alex has a secret.
Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.
Edgy, and yet wonderfully tender, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG sent me to reader heaven!
~ Tina Ferraro, author of THE ABCs OF KISSING BOYS
Around six the next morning, I find Mom sitting at the island bench in the kitchen. She looks pretty chill for someone who just laid on a breakfast of fruit salad, yogurt, sautèed mushrooms and kale, unbuttered whole-wheat sourdough and two eggs, sunny-side up. A thick, football-field-green smoothie sits in a tall glass by the blender. Great. More kale.
“Hey, Alex!” She smiles over her coffee mug and pats the stool next to her. “Sleep well?”
I shuffle onto the seat and stare at the food. “Have I died and gone to buffet heaven?”
My mother winces at my choice of words, then makes a big effort to put on a happy face like she always does. “I want you to keep your strength up. You don’t have to eat all of it. Just most of it.”
“And you don’t have to go out of your way to make this for me. I mean, thanks. A lot. But I don’t have much of an appetite.”
“Oh, I’m having some, too,” she says in an overly bright voice. With her fork, she scoops up a tiny portion of kale, hardly enough to fill a mouse’s belly.
Since my diagnosis a few months ago, Mom hasn’t been eating much either. This doesn’t stop her from testing all the “cancer-fighting” recipes she finds on Pinterest. Baking is therapy, she says. I call it a waste of food. Fortunately, the family next door is more than happy to take excess lentil loaf off our hands.
Every hour of every day, I wonder what will happen to Mom after I go. She’ll be all alone. Dad moved back to Australia after the divorce. He’s making custom surfboards, connecting with old friends, so I know he’ll be okay. Mom’s literally got no one. Except the perpetually hungry neighbors and her five employees. Yet another reason why I shouldn’t die so young.
It’s crazy. Why does it have to be like this? Maybe the doctors got it wrong. They’re not infallible. They’re not gods. They can’t predict the exact number of months, days, hours, and seconds a person has left on Earth.
Then again, I’ve peeked at my medical records. I know it doesn’t look good for me. With the help of a counselor I’ve gotten to the stage of mostly accepting that I’m headed for a dead end. I’ve even started giving some of my stuff away. The iPad Dad gave me is now Molly’s. Mom won’t have to go through boxes of my middle-school clothes after I’m gone because I’ve already dropped them off at Goodwill. The cobalt-blue board I learned to surf on? I’m giving that to a kid down the street whether he likes it or not.
Noticing I haven’t touched a single morsel, Mom says, “Will you at least have the kale, broccoli and goji berry smoothie? You don’t even have to chew. Close your eyes and drink it.”
Speaking of acceptance… Yeah, Mom’s adamant that five doctors on two continents are wrong and that I’ll make a miraculous recovery. All we need is faith and love and kale.
I would rather eat broken glass mixed with cyanide, but for Mom, I guess I can manage this. Forcing a smile, I sip chunks of raw broccoli that slipped by the blender’s blades. I’ll check over the blender later, make sure it’s working okay.
“After breakfast, I’m taking you to that appointment you missed yesterday,” she says quickly.
Feeling guilty, I look away. She didn’t hammer me for skipping out on seeing this “amazing herbalist-slash-psychic-healer.” Still, I know she was disappointed in me. “What about work? You’ve missed a lot of days because of me.”
“It’s fine. Things are slow anyway.” Her voice is two octaves higher than usual.
She’s lying. The real estate biz in this corner of SoCal is booming. Foreclosures have brought in the flippers—the people who swoop in on bank-owned properties and fix them up for a profit.
“But you need those commissions.” Silently I add, To pay my medical bills.
Another reason to feel guilty. I’m aware of how much my cancer is costing my parents. Flights to a melanoma specialist in Sydney and more hospital follow-ups here don’t come cheap. My folks tell me not to worry about that, but ironically I’m old enough to figure out that dying young is expensive.
And now Molly’s pushing me to apply to Yale.
I can’t blame her. She knows it’s been my dream since forever to go to Yale, get a medical degree, become a pediatrician. But it’d be a waste of time and money for me to even try to follow that dream.
I grimace at the olive oil oozing from the barely touched kale and mushroom thing.
Waste. Sure is the theme of the day. Of my life, even.
Vanessa lives in Australia with her musician husband, a photogenic cat, and a ghost. In addition to writing, she works as a TV closed captioner for the deaf and audio describer for the blind. Her pastimes include baking, iPhonography, and traveling the world on a quest to find the world’s greatest fries.
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