This was a book I didn’t know existed until it showed up on two lists, as though the universe wanted my Listicle bingo square filled. Some website, probably Barnes and Noble, had a list of young adult books turned into movies, and as An Old, I had never heard of either the book or the movie. A coworker also had it in her to-be-read pile. As today was a slow day at work and I accidentally brought a book in today for my lunch break not realizing it was the second in a series, I asked to borrow it (and incurred her wrath by finishing it before her). I feel like that means I can count it as a book I got off of a list, right?
Anyway, this was much better than I expected it to be, even if it hit the expected young adult romance beats right on schedule. There was one character I knew not to get too attached to like you know not to name the runt of the litter, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to decipher why someone is referred to frequently while never actually being around, and likewise it’s not hard to figure out why one of the nurses on our protagonists’ cystic fibrosis ward is such a hardass.
But the thing of it is, the central tension of the book – the five feet apart of the name – is that the characters who fall in love and meet cute in a hospital literally can’t be together, and it is a seriously good impediment to young love, unlike so many other artificial young adult barriers. They have to maintain physical distance because their CF leaves them immunocompromised, one more than the other. There’s a serious infection risk if they don’t maintain a safe distance from one another. I was also pretty moved by the reasoning behind our type-A heroine’s motivation, but don’t want to spoil too much.
I definitely felt like this was worth the read, and I’m someone who doesn’t love young adult as a rule (I’m not a monster, I do love quite a lot of it and won’t avoid something as being “for kids,” it just suffers as a genre from too many authors underestimating their readership and the intelligence of teens). It’s going to garner comparisons to The Fault in Their Stars, but this was a significantly better book, at least in my estimation.