It's always good to see a friend and fellow writer succeed. At the infancy of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards competition back in 2008, I was certain Megan Bostic would get published.
While Megan is an excellent wordsmith, she also understands marketing very well. She worked hard at getting her name out: networking, doing excellent video reviews of other writers' excerpts, and creating a blog while the rest of us were still struggling with our words.
While I enjoyed Megan's ABNA excerpt, she's grown a great deal from her first attempt at a YA novel. Here's the blurb for Never Eighteen:
I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared, terrified really.
Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left there’s one thing he can do: He can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will.
It’s probably hopeless.
But he has to try.
My TBR pile is high and I'm years behind, but the minute I read the blurb and the first sentence, I had to read further and I only stopped briefly until the final pages.
Megan's created an amazingly sympathetic character in Austin. Being seventeen going on eighteen is tough enough, but add to that the knowledge that you've got a terminal disease. Some kids would go dramatic, some would just hide, some would do selfish things. Austin's on a mission to change the world--at least, a the little part of it that he can.
"Maybe if we all just tried to put the pieces back together as soon as they fell out of place, the puzzles in our lives would feel more like an accomplishment than a chore."
This quote is the only place where I stopped reading. I immediately typed it into my iPhone and turned it into my Facebook status. Since then, I've advised Megan to make t-shirts, buttons, and bumperstickers using these words. Austin's quote's a whole lot clearer than the old saw, "a stitch in time saves nine."
While Austin is a good and generous person, he does have some making up to do. One of the most memorable scenes is when he goes to the home of one of the kids he bullied in elementary school. That took guts. It was also one of the scenes I had to read twice.
The relationship between Austin and his best friend, Kaylee, is wonderful. They've been friends since third grade, but as the pages turn, we see them grow into much more. It's totally believable and much better than teen books that are written strictly as a romance.
I think the best thing I can say about Never Eighteen is that Megan's not just created a memorable character in Austin, she's constructed a positive role model for both kids and adults. This book is definitely an excellent addition to the libraries of readers of all ages.
None of us have to wait until we're dying or leaving to set things right. There's no bad time to make amends--and there's no better time than the present.
Rebecca McFarland Kyle