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  • Touching Romance

    Disclaimer: Before we start, I have to say that this story hit close-to-home for me. Like the MC's mother, I had Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was 15, and was treated with intense chemo and a stem cell transplant, as well as chemo injected up my spine. As I'm in the UK, the treatment and attitudes differ. However, I've had to find a halfway point between my experience and the fictional story, to give the book the time and space to shine and view it as any other reader might. ~ I'll See You Again is a love story that is equal parts romantic and familial, exploring the harsh realities of life, teen drama and loss while Cyrus navigates the bloom of first love. This is a YA story told in a 1st person, almost diary concept, with strong themes that touches upon some tough subjects, but it does so with sensitivity and care. Cyrus is 100% a genuine teenager, dealing with real issues, real drama and reacting as any other teenager of his age would in the same circumstances. With teen drama abound, the story explores what it's like to be a teenager with a sick/dying parent while navigating first love. The story is equally split between Cyrus' first real romance and his world crumbling around him as his mother suffers a cancer relapse after a brief remission. As these stories are so deeply intertwined and hold equal weight to Cyrus, the book begins immediately with both events – Cyrus' mother breaks the news of her relapse and we get our first glimpse of Nico, the love interest. OVERALL There were a few instances where I felt the story faltered. For example, a nurse keeping a suicide attempt a secret is a dangerous thing, as it doesn't help the sufferer get the help they need. But, by the time I finished the book, I understood the decision. I wasn't keen on how every character behaved and thought about Darien, Cyrus' absent father. His treatment felt harsh, especially when it resulted in such extreme consequences. I understood from the start that he was the “villain” of the story, but the hostility and violence seemed disproportionate to his crimes. I would have liked a little more expansion of detail and emotional exploration, just to help me feel more connected to Cyrus through the first half of the book. There were a few editing/grammar issues that were minor but noticable. And I felt the cover and blurb represented a much more up-beat story, compared to the starkly heavy realism that was within. I also think that, while it's vitally important that Cyrus' mother has cancer, it was mentioned a little too often; it was made clear throughout Cyrus' words and thoughts, behaviours and experiences, so it didn't need to be repeated as often as it was. Little things that would have elevated the story a little more. In the end, I really enjoyed the overall story for what it was, how it explored the concepts and relationships within, and the subtle characterisation that let us watch each character grow and evolve over the span of nearly two years that the book progressed through. The romance was beautiful. The growth of the characters was refreshing and realistic. While Cyrus' story was often serious, it had enough moments of light and joy, of love and friendship to keep the story from feeling oppressive or heavy. By the time story ended, I saw Cyrus for the complex, yet teenage, character he was and the trials he had successfully endured. I appreciated Nico for what he added to Cyrus' story, but my feelings for both character flipped constantly while reading. While the story had quirks and twists abound, throughout the timeline, the story never strayed from where it was heading. I'll See You Again began as a teen drama and blossomed into a story of first love and self-discovery. It's a story of faith, love, and family that manages to balance real life with a dream of the future. Cyrus didn't immediately capture my heart; he slipped in a little at a time and overwhelmed me. ~ Favourite Quotes “I didn't know it was possible to feel what I felt when kissing Nico. Almost as if nothing else mattered while Nico and I shared that moment of passion—not even my worries about Mom's health.”

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