“Here's a secret. […] There's a difference between being dead and dying. We're all dying. Some of us die for ninety years, and some of us die for nineteen. But each morning everyone on this planet wakes up one day closer to their death. Everyone. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it.” If this excerpt makes you feel a little uneasy but somehow intrigued and wanting to hear more, then Extraordinary Means is the perfect book for you. This tragic, yet comedic love story by Robyn Schneider will not disappoint, and will have you clinging to the edge of your seat.
This story follows Lane through his struggles after being diagnosed with a new strand of Tuberculosis, and having moved into a sanitarium called Latham House. There, he meets many people just like him who are suffering from an incurable disease. Although this concept sounds depressing, this book is just as sorrowful as it is humorous. The author implements comedic relief into the characters by having them tell many jokes and use humor as a coping mechanism for all that they are enduring.
Lane, the main protagonist, is a 17-year-old AP student who had hopes of being accepted early admission into Stanford. All of his efforts were finally paying off, until he got sick. Moved into a part hospital, part boarding school, Lane is forced to adjust to his new life, determined to continue his AP classes independently. However, he now lives in an institution where it is easier to flunk breakfast than any of his other classes combined. On his first day, he finds himself abandoned by his tour guide and explores Latham on his own. He navigates his way to the dining hall where he finds a girl that he didn’t think he would ever see again. The loner he once knew from summer camp many years ago, however she is not the shy outcast he remembered.
Sadie, unlike Lane, has been at Latham for 15 months. Completely and utterly unfazed by the strict rules, Sadie doesn’t care if she gets a strike or anything else for that matter. Her rule breaking veneer seems to mask her fears and self-doubt, but not as abruptly as readers expect. Sadie had transformed from the introverted bookworm she once was to a sarcastic, and fearless girl in a friend group of outcasts and troublemakers who will do anything to not succumb to the depression of Latham.
Sadie has no interest in meeting the boy from her past, but their conflict is quickly resolved and Lane joins their group of rebels, and embarks on many various adventures with them. They drink, buy, and sell contraband, and break the number one rule about being in a sanatorium: Sneaking out. Through the excitement of rule breaking, and the depression of being ill, Sadie and Lane begin a heartwarming romance that destiny may have doomed from the start.
Told in alternate points of view, Extraordinary Means, is a captivating story about second chances, friendship, and first love filled with dark humor that you can’t help but enjoy. Full of riveting dialog and charismatic characters that you just want to befriend, this is a book that you will not hesitate to reread over and over again.
Throughout this book you will laugh and cry, feel joy and anger, and truly think, what is the difference between living and dying?