May 10, 2014

Review: My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

There’s something about New York City that gives you permission to just be. There’s no need for pretense, no need for masks. You can be real, without risk. The buildings are your protectors, the streets are your tethers. The people…you will never see them again. Even when they’re right in front of you, you don’t see them. Not really. Just as they don’t really see you. New York is beautifully anonymous.

Synopsis:

Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it’s all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different…every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.

Weirdly enough, it wasn’t the summary that made me grab this book and decide to read it. It was the cover. It’s an eye catching cover with bright colors, not to mention that sunbeam. It draws your attention and quite honestly, I had to see why a cover that beautiful had such a sad summary.

Lucy seems to have the perfect life. Two dads that absolutely love her, a gorgeous boyfriend that completely dotes on her, two fantastic best friends and she’s a talented actress, about to win the role of Juliet for her school’s upcoming performance of Romeo & Juliet. Enter Elise, Lucy’s nemesis who slowly takes everything away from her and Lisa, her very absent mother who is now living with her and her fathers. Lucy, incapable of dealing with the emotional impacts these changes have had on her life, decides to throw caution to the wind to spend a reckless night with a studly singer she meets in a bar.

A night that will forever change her life, and the way she views it.

Lucy is a little hard to like. At least for me. She’s extremely spoiled and entitled and every once in awhile I sort of either wanted to slap her or hug her and sit her down and have a long talk with her. But it’s hard to sit here and pass judgments on her actions. After all, she’s a 17 year old girl that just discovered she is HIV positive. In many aspects, I think she handled her fate fairly well. Well, after the initial shock and denial stages, of course. In fact, I think she handles it better than many adults would be able to.

Lucy does have a tendency to overreact – perhaps the actress in her? – she throws tantrums at the slightest provocation and completely turns her back on her friends because of her fear. Which I can understand to a point. I can understand the fear of how they might react. But if it were me, I’d trust the two people that have been my closest confidants practically since birth. I also disliked how she treated her mother. I get it. Lisa was a crappy mother. She was gone for pretty much Lucy’s entire life. And as someone who has a parent just like that, I completely get the desire to act towards Lisa the way she did. What really surprised me though was the fact that her fathers never really called her on it. Lucy needed some discipline in the worst way.

Although I will say that she did get better as the book went along. And as I said before, she actually ends up handling her diagnosis with some pretty major grace and dignity. It doesn’t hurt to have a handsome, loyal and funny guy by your side who knows about your diagnosis and still loves you. In fact, that’s one of the things I did love about this book. Lucy has the greatest support system ever. Her friends are hilarious and adorable. And her dads – I love her dads. They are pretty much the coolest dads in the world.

While “My Life After Now” isn’t the best book in the world and while I kind of disliked Lucy for over half the book, I will say that I am glad that Jessica Verdi wrote it. Growing up in the 90’s AIDS and HIV was all you heard about. It was everywhere. 20 years later, the disease is still very much around and very much still contracted and yet you don’t hear about nearly as much. I’m glad that there is a modern day YA book tackling this huge and life altering disease. I’m truly glad that Lucy has a happy ending to show that even though someone has HIV, their life is certainly not over. And even though Lucy made a stupid choice, I’m actually kind of glad that that was how Verdi wrote it. People make stupid decisions every day when it comes to sex and who they do and do not give themselves too. It’s a refreshing change to see someone reminding teens that hey, sex ISN’T a game and can come with some HUGE consequences – and not just pregnancy (which is also a huge and life altering change that shouldn’t be seen as a fad).

I certainly recommend it to all the young kids who think “I’m 16 and sex is cool, YOLO”. Yes. You Only Live Once. So try not to mess it up by making dumb choices that are completely avoidable, am I right?

Have you read any other novels that deal with HIV, AIDS or another STD? What were your thoughts on them? Leave a comment with your recommendations!

FOUR STARS