How to keep on going through life when everything is suddenly turned upside down? This is Robyn Schneider’s life lesson in Extraordinary Means. Funny but dark, bittersweet but thoughtful, this book, in the following of The Beginning Of Everything, is full of life. Brought with its complications, its heartbreaking moments, and everything that this is made of.
“That’s all you can do in this world, no matter how strong the current beats against you, or how heavy your burden, or how tragic your love story. You keep going.”
When seventeen years-old Lane is diagnosed with a total drug-resistant tuberculosis, his whole world crumbles. Suddenly, the straight A-s student who never stopped planning his future at Stanfold is sent away to Latham, a place filled with students just like him, forced to live in the now. Perfectly dealing with this way of life, beautiful and mysterious Sadie and her group of troublemakers friends, fascinate Lane, who quickly becomes part of their group. Totally outside of his usual routine, the perfect student increasingly grows attached to all of them, as they try and make their way through life, but most of all, through sickness which isn’t as forgiving as the first one is. As bittersweet as this plot already sounds, I wanted to pick it up, partly because it was Robyn Schneider’s work, and partly because of this synopsis. Stuck at this strange boarding school, dealing with an uncurable disease, fitting into a new group, finding what you want out of life, living in the now… I could perfectly hear all of those themes echoing in these lines, and I just couldn’t wait to explore this story, more.
As always, Robyn Schneider provides us with great, realistic characters, with their own voices echoing with our own. I can say I recognized myself a bit in Lane Rosen, the main character of this story. We’re all young, and looking towards the future, more than the past, obviously. But sometimes, we doesn’t think to stop a second and enjoy the now, too. Lane was like that, during the first half of the book, as I was, as I still am. Grades-obsessed, wanting to succeed in life. But success comes from what you live, who you meet, and who you want to be with, and not from your qualifications and A-s on a paper. Lane learns that thourough this story, and I found his evolution beautiful. We grow to love this character, even though we manage to find out his flaws and his mistakes, he’s so, oh so endearing, as Ezra was in The Beginning of Everything. But he’s not alone. The whole group, our friends while we flip all of the pages, are perfectly relatable and well-enough thought of that they can take shape in our imagination as whole, and not simply decoration in the story of Lane and Sadie. Because this is it : we’re caught between Lane and Sadie’s point of view in this story, told in both their point of view in those chapters. The latter seemed a little less relatable to me, at first. However, the author perfectly manages, on and on, to create deepness to this character, and helps us understand her decisions, what’s going on in her mind. Robyn Schneider mastered both POV with perfection, writing two different, but compelling voices.
“Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less, because the point isn’t for how long, the point is that it happened.”
More than characters, it’s the relationships that makes this book resonnate so strongly in my mind. Because, where others would rush things in a complicated time, the author knew how to build things between Lane and Sadie. Despite sickness, uncertain future and everything happening, both of them did not rush towards a relationship, whether it’s friendship, or more. Lane’s integration to the group of friends was well done, too, just as a real friendship should start.
Because this is what Extraordinary Means really is about. As The Fault in Our Stars was more about leaving a mark on the world, than it was about sickness, Robyn Schneider’s latest book opens up on friendship, fitting in, and most of all, finding how to live, right now. Watch out, people, Extraordinary Means leaves a mark, as the author is on the young adult contemporary books.
Did you read Extraordinary Means? What did you think about it? If not, are you planning to read it? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments!
Robyn Schneider, Extraordinary Means, Published by Katherine Tegen Books, May 26th 2015.
From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.
At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.
There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.
But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.
Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.