Zac & Mia
Booklist Reviews 2014 June #1
After a recurrence of his leukemia, Zac is recuperating from a bone-marrow transplant when the room next door becomes occupied by an angry girl with osteosarcoma. The teens begin to correspond on Facebook, but then Mia disappears from Zac's life only to resurface months later with bad news: her leg has since been amputated below the knee. Full of rage, she convinces Zac to take her on a trip before an infection sends her back to the hospital. The two finally reunite and provide each other with needed support. The teens are in stark contrast to each other, though not always in surprising ways. Despite this, their situations are engaging, and their yearning to be treated like normal teens is well crafted. Betts' experience working in a children's hospital is revealed in her details—for example, the waxy taste of chocolate that lingers after chemotherapy. This Australian import, published a year after John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (2012), will draw comparisons to that publishing juggernaut and should find in that horde a ready audience. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Spring
Zac, who has leukemia, knows that Mia's got good odds with her diagnosis of osteosarcoma. But Mia, whose leg was amputated, feels anything but lucky. Desperate, she escapes to Zac's family's olive-oil farm cum petting zoo. Like a certain book by John Green, this Australian import is about teens with cancer in love, but introduces two characters remarkable in their own right.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #6
Let's get this out of the way: yes, like a certain book by John Green, this is a novel about two teens with cancer who fall in love. Don't dismiss it as a copycat, though; this Australian import, told from alternating perspectives, introduces two characters who are remarkable in their own right. Seventeen-year-old Zac, who has leukemia, is stuck in the hospital following a bone-marrow transplant. He's obsessed with statistics, especially about cancer and death, so when Mia arrives next door with a diagnosis of osteosarcoma, Zac knows that she's got good odds. "Ur the luckiest on the ward," he tells her during one of their late-night Facebook chats. But once they're released, Mia feels anything but lucky; during surgery, her leg was amputated below the knee. Desperate and alone, she escapes to Zac's family's (delightfully Aussie) olive-oil farm-cum-petting zoo. The setbacks and heartbreak continue -- such as when the pair attends the funeral of a friend from the hospital -- but Zac's loneliness and Mia's bitterness fade as they discover that, despite their illnesses, they are lucky. "What are the odds of this?" Zac wonders, with Mia curled up next to him. "Shared breath, soft flesh, and the staggering possibility that life can be good again." It's these glimmers of hope -- against an incredibly dark background -- that give the novel a deserving place on the increasingly crowded "kids with cancer" shelf. rachel l. smit Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.
PW Reviews 2014 June #4
At nearly 18, Zac is too old for the pediatric oncology ward, but far younger than the rest of the patients in the adult ward. So when a teenage girl turns up next door, it's a big deal. Outside the hospital, beautiful Mia would never have noticed Zac, but not only does Zac know the ward, he also knows cancer's existential terrors and daily discomforts. The two start by tapping on their shared wall, move to Facebook conversations, and eventually meet. Aside from its Australian setting (Zac's family runs an olive farm/petting zoo that's conveniently on Mia's bus route when she runs away), this is familiar territory. Betts portrays cancer as hard, scary, and isolating, but beatable—or at least bearable—if one isn't facing it alone, and her depiction of a boy trying to hold onto normal life and a girl realizing she can't keep hers from changing has power. Mia's odds may be better than Zac's are (Zac knows: he's Googled it), but in the end, both are better off for having taken a chance on the other. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC