For me finding a book is never an easy task, because I dislike going out of my comfort zone and taking a chance. So this book was a lucky find after hours of searching around the internet. It had the vibe and similarities from two of my favorite books and maybe even a third that are all pretty popular: If I Stay, Thirteen Reasons Why, and The Fault in Our Stars.
The book Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic is the story of Austin Parkers, who is on a journey through life to close loose fences, and bring a final piece of meaning. Austin tries to live out the final duration of his life by helping some of the people that have either made an impact or touched him in some way in his life. These people are those he thinks need help and guidance, but don’t know or realize it for whatever reason. Austin makes the journey with Kaylee, the girl he loves, making stops along the way to famous places in their home of Tacoma, Washington and facing their fears.
Ultimately, the inevitable happens: due to his refusal of continuing treatment, Austin passes away from leukemia. One thing I really enjoyed about the book, that it was not centered on him having a terminal illness, but rather about him mending fences with the other characters and their relationships. It underplays the cancer; it is only really mentioned by Austin that he is indeed dying, while the other characters appear to be in a sort of denial or a strong hope everything will be all right.
My favorite part was how the author put songs at the very end, which inspired her writing and the spirit of the book. Which inspired me to name the following songs that I believe that fit the story line.
- I Lived – One Republic: A personal favorite for me and is one that I constantly thought of. It is exactly what I pictured Austin wanted himself and his family to picture, and be able to say. I think it also matches the tone of the book, perfectly.
- If I Die Young – The Band Perry: Another that describes Austin in my perspective acutely, the way they know exactly what they want. This song deals with the realization of not only dying at a young age but also, coming to turns with that just because life can be short does not make it any less valuable
- Not in that way – Sam Smith: Originally I presumed this song should have been dedicated to Kaylee and her views on Austin all the way until the end. But close to the fifteenth time I heard the song it clicked to me that behind the lyrics was a story that was a better fit for how Austin knew she would never love him in the same way he loved her
- Best Shot – James Young: A perfect description of the relationship or friendship shared between Austin and Kaylee. This song is about always being there for each other even when things are hard and that is one of the main themes of the story.
- All of the Stars – Shawn Mendes: Originally by Ed Sheeran for, “The Fault in Our Stars” this song is given a younger tone when sung by Mendes. This song really went hand in hand with the tone of the book, near the end. This song has a lot of links to death and so it holds a connection to Kaylee’s thought and feeling, especially the link to star gazing.
- Undone – Haley Reinhart: The song describes, how much love can tear you apart once it ends and how you feel that you will never quite recover. The lyrics are actually quite beautiful, a perfect description of how Haylee felt shortly after the loss of Austin and receiving the box and letter. She wants answers to why this happened to her and how she is supposed to move on from this tragedy.
- Afire love – Ed Sheeran: Another beautiful song by an artist that I admire, this song also deals with the tragedy of death. At the beginning of the song he talks about how they are slowly dying and through all this pain suffering, they are forgetting everything and everyone. Then in the middle of the song the person is no longer suffering, and the family is tied together once again through tragedy. This song is a beautiful depiction of the way death works and though there are no specific ties it really fit the book well
- I Will be There – Odessa: If I had to pick one song to be the theme, this would be it. This depicts how they are best friends and always there for each other. No matter what, they will be there to help you. The lyrics are simple, but the song itself is very unique from most of current day music.
- If Today Were Your Last Day – Nickelback: I was really impartial to putting this song in because it could easily be described as cheesy, but the lyrics just fit the text really well. It was almost as If the song was written for the book, because they are just that close. This was on key for what I believe Austin was felling in the book, when he went to everyone house.
- Battlefield – Lea Michele: Austin and Kaylee where never meant to be more than friends, but somewhere along the way they fell in love. Now Kaylee knows that she has to let Austin go, she needs to be strong for both of them just like he was. Peace or in this case, acceptance will only come when she lets go. What seemed like a good idea is now a battlefield, because she needs to figure out to let him go
- These Four Walls – Little Mix: The raw emotion that is described in this song, mixed with the beautifully written words in this book pair together exceptionally well. I believe that this is yet another perfect description of Kaylee and her emotions after losing Austin.
- What You Wanted- One Republic: The feel of this song is so powerful and the lyrics make it a song that never quite leaves your mind. The unconditional love that is described in only four lines gives us a glimpse at how amazing a first love can be. Something that Kaylee and Austin both got just a glimpse.
- All You Had To Do Was Stay – Taylor Swift: In the end Kaylee wanted nothing more than to have Austin, all he needed to do was stay. But this was realized too late, therefore it could not happen; instead she had to deal with the grief of losing him.
- Please Don’t Go – Barcelona: This song is so simple but in a very beautiful way, the few lyrics there are speak for themselves; painting a picture of two friends who have ultimately fallen in love but one does not notice their feelings or keeps them hidden out of fear.
- Come Home – One Republic: Finally, a song originally written for someone whom has been deployed to fight for their country shortly after getting engaged. When I hear this song I instantly think of someone sitting in either the rain or in the dark of night, writing the lyrics but at the same time saying them. And that is exactly what I felt like at the end of this book, and when I put the two together it just fit and gave that bit of closure.
-Shelby B., 10th grade