Title: Only The Good Die Young
Author: KK Hendin
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: I received this e-book in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review as part of this blog tour
The first year of college is supposed to be about parties, parties, and getting the hell out of Texas. Instead, Milcah Daniels is spending her eighteenth year in and out of Houston’s hospitals. Her hair is falling out, they’ve cut off her boobs, and if she makes it to nineteen, she’ll consider it a personal miracle.
Breast cancer really has a way of messing with a girl’s social calendar.
When Milcah’s temporarily discharged from the hospital, she’s determined to get a tattoo for every medical procedure she’s had. Her quest leads her to Skin Stories, a new tattoo parlor a block from her apartment. And to it’s infuriatingly sexy artist, Callum Scott.
Callum is everything Milcah wants, and everything she shouldn’t have now. A new relationship when the official prognosis is one to five years is a terrible idea. But Callum doesn’t know about the breast cancer, and Milcah’s not running to tell him.
But when the doctor says things are actually looking positive, her entire life turns upside down. How is she supposed to start living again when she’s finally learned to accept her death?
Where do I even begin with this story? I don’t think I have ever been as torn apart as I was while reading through Milcah’s story. It was one of those stories that had happy moments, heart breaking moments and then moments that hit me so strongly that I had to stop in the middle of a scene to just let it all soak in.
Milcah is by far one of the most realistic and complex characters I have ever read. I would say that my heart went out to her during this story but I sort of have a feeling that would end with me getting a lifetime supply of glares from Milcah. Her story was as tough as she was. I wanted so badly for her to just be alright. For the cancer to be gone, for her boobs to still be there, for her to feel no more fear. But that is not the way life goes and I applaud KK Hendin for not sugar-coating a single second of it. Through the endless doctor appointments, through getting her boobs cut off, through leaving her life behind and trying to start all over by herself, Milcah was a fierce fighter whether she realized it or not. I loved this strength she had about her but at the same time, I also loved her fear. I know that may sound kind of weird but it made her even more real to me. Milcah’s fear of death, of being sick, of loving and living was what a lot of this story was about and it was these little messages that KK wrote so beautifully that had me turning page after page.
While I loved the deeper, heart-felt, thought-provoking moments in this book to absolute pieces, I also loved the fact that the story was enriched with fun, light-hearted moments brought on by Milcah’s sassiness and Callum’s general awesomeness. I loved that through the pain and sickness Milcah was able to hold true to who she was which was this feisty, say-it-how-she-means-it type of girl. But a certain boy makes Milcah second guess everything she believed before. I loved that Callum was this walking, talking, extremely good-looking mass of sweetness, surprise, and compassion. He was there for Milcah, supported her, pushed her beyond her comfort zone, and taught her what it meant to really live. I loved that while he looked like a total bad-ass, he was this super sweet man who would do anything for Milcah.
While I loved just about everything this truly beautiful story had to offer, I couldn’t help but wish that it were longer. I wanted to know more about Milcah, more about her family, and more about her relationship with Callum. To me it felt like it ended way too early but I can certainly see why KK ended it the way she did. It wrapped up nicely but not perfect, on a happy not but not on a for-sure one. In a way, I couldn’t see this story ending differently.
Only The Good Die Young isn’t a story you take lightly. It will break your heart, multiple times actually, it will make you swoon, make you happy, make you cry, and even make you think about life, death, and everything else in between. It isn’t an easy story to read for those reasons but despite how hard it is the brutally, beautifully honest way it is written makes it all worth it in the end.
KK has put together an awesome playlist to go along with Only The Good Die Young. After reading the book and now listening through the songs, I could so see where they play a part in this story. I hope you all enjoy listening to it!
I spent a lot of time simultaneously attempting to draft this book and g-chatting one of my dear friends, Alex Brown. Somehow, our conversations ended up with us trading songs that made us cry. To get us in the mood of writing sad things, I guess :) Or because we’re both twisted souls. Both of these are entirely possible.
Some songs that were on repeat while I was drafting:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
KK Hendin’s real life ambition is to become a pink fluffy unicorn who dances with rainbows. But the schooling for that is all sorts of complicated, so until that gets sorted out, she’ll just write. Preferably things with angst and love. And things that require chocolate. She’s the author of the NA contemporaries HEART BREATHS and ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG.
She spends way too much time on Twitter, where she can be found at @kkhendin, and rambles on occasion over at www.kkhendinwrites.blogspot.com.
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