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I Belong

Review: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Maybe One DayTitle: Maybe One Day

Author: Melissa Kantor

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: February 18, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062279203 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062279200 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Jessie


Critically acclaimed author Melissa Kantor masterfully captures the joy of friendship, the agony of loss, and the unique experience of being a teenager in this poignant new novel about a girl grappling with her best friend’s life-threatening illness.

A person’s whole life, she’s lucky to have one or two real friends. Friends who are like family . . . for Zoe that someone is Olivia. So when Olivia is diagnosed with leukemia Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her best friend.

Even when she isn’t sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia’s crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

Quick & Dirty: A heartwarming exploration of real friendship, relationships, and living life to the fullest despite pain and expectations.

Opening Sentence: “I realize this is upsetting news,” said Ms. Daniels, watching me and Olivia across her enormous wooden desk.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Maybe One Day is a very emotional journey with best friends Zoe and Olivia. It is hard to imagine being in either of these girls’ situations because the situation is just so hard. Teenage and high school years are hard enough with the drama and disappointments of everyday life, and then to have a leukemia diagnosis slammed on them is pretty much unbearable. Both girls are so strong, but Kantor does throw in some human mistakes to keep her characters real and believable for the most part.

A cancer story is a difficult one to pull off, and interestingly, Kantor shines the most in that aspect. She does a beautiful job of showing these very real struggles that both Olivia and Zoe face not only as teenagers, but as teenagers put into this impossible situation that no one even knows how to deal with. Suddenly nothing is certain. Olivia not only has to deal with the physical side of her cancer, she has to deal with all these emotional aspects of possibly missing out on her whole future as she had planned it. And Zoe struggles to be the best support possible to her friend, but at the same time must still go on living what life she can. Kantor shows so well the awkwardness of the social aspect of this predicament, between Olivia and her parents, between Olivia and Zoe, between Zoe and her other peers, between Zoe and Olivia’s family, between Zoe and Calvin. No one knows how to deal with this. No one knows what’s right or wrong here. No one knows how to help Olivia or how to help each other. Everyone has bouts of anger mixed with bouts of helplessness mixed with bouts of trying to pretend like this isn’t happening. The novel makes you feel for each of the characters as their lives revolve around this completely uncontrollable roller coaster and try to cope each in their own way. This is the core of the novel and what truly makes this book worthwhile in spite of some of its flaws.

There are a few problematic elements to this novel. The first is the use of clichés throughout the novel, not to the point that they ruin the story, but definitely to the point that the story stays a story, and never reaches that point that the reader can really escape into it. The use of high school labels is overwhelming, with overly dramatic cheerleaders and overly handsome jocks taking the lead in the plot, but with Olivia and Zoe conveniently being ballerinas, therefore fitting in with cheerleaders and soccer players alike. Olivia and Zoe’s friendship is a little too contrived as well. The fact that they both get kicked out of their dance school on the same day as a major predicament at the beginning of the book just sets up the characters to remain in full character mode.

The last major plot development that seems forced is Zoe’s sudden development of a crush on Calvin, just because Olivia happens to have a slight crush on him. There are a plethora of female characters but very few male characters, leaving few options for crushes in the novel in the first place. Once developed, the crush is believable, as we see a different side to both Calvin and Zoe, but there is just not enough substance building it up in the first place. Their relationship ends up adding a lot more than just romantic entertainment to the novel, as both Calvin and Zoe are so involved in Olivia’s life and therefore, the ups and downs of her cancer diagnosis and treatments. The dilemma Zoe feels at trying to live her life at least on some level but feeling guilty about it since Olivia is unable to do the same is just heart-wrenching and totally understandable.

In fair warning, the biggest personal issue I have with the book is that I feel it is not age appropriate for the audience it is intended for. The heavy language, underage drinking, and sexual content in the novel would not pass for a PG-13 audience, however, somehow in a novel it is okay to market to the same age group. The overall plot, characters, and setting seem most applicable to a high school audience, but it  is definitely dependent on adult details.

Notable Scene:

“Why is this happening to me, Zoe?” Olivia whispered, her voice hoarse. “It’s so unfair.”

I could feel a huge sob growing in my chest, and all I wanted to do was let it out, wail as loudly as Olivia just had. I swallowed hard, pushing it down, down, down, scared that if I let it out, I’d never be able to stop.

“It is unfair, Livs,” I whispered back. “I hate everything because of it.”

“You hated everything before I got sick; you know you did,” she whispered.

And then, out of nowhere, Olivia started laughing. It wasn’t a slow buildup, like a giggle into a belly laugh. She just burst into laughter. It was slightly hysterical laughter, but it was definitely laughter. “I have no idea why I’m laughing,” said Olivia, catching her breath. “Maybe the chemo went to my brain.” The possibility must have struck her as funny because she burst out laughing again.


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Maybe One Day. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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