Ben Wolf is going to die, in less than one year. He’s a senior in high school, and he’s just been diagnosed with a rare blood disease. Against the advice of his doctor, he’s chosen to forego treatment, instead choosing to live out his last few months as normally as possible, instead of sick and bald from the treatment that would buy him only a few more months. In addition to not accepting treatment, he’s also not telling anyone. Not his brother, not his parents, nobody. He’s eighteen, and his doctor can’t do anything about it without breaking doctor-patient confidentiality.

Ben knows he’s going to die, and he wants to condense an entire lifetime into a few months. He wants to make his mark on the world, and rather than the usual fifty or sixty years a guy his age has left to do it, he’s only got a few months He figures it’s also time to take some risks. He is really short and 123 pounds, and he’s going out for football. He’s got his eye on Dallas Suzuki, too, who may sound like a Texan car dealership, he says, but is in actuality a smart, gorgeous girl he’s been lusting after for ages. And in school, he’s not putting up with the crap his civics teacher tries to teach him; he’s on a quest for the truth, now that he doesn’t have to worry about pleasing the close-minded teacher for a diploma. Living with the secret isn’t as easy as Ben thinks at first, though. What about the people who he’ll leave behind?

Chris Crutcher has once again proven himself to be a brilliant author. He manages to make this difficult subject matter funny, sad, touching, a whole range of human emotions. Crutcher really understands people, and he shows it in this book; all of his characters are amazing. This book is probably his best that I’ve read yet, and that is really, really saying something. It really threw things into perspective and made me think about my own life, as I’m sure it would do to anyone who read it. Perhaps the idea of a novel about someone who is dying at trying to make the most of living is not one that is completely original, but Crutcher really makes it his own, and, really, how many truly original ideas are out there these days, anyway? This is a brilliant, well-written, thought-provoking, and, to put it simply, truly amazing novel, one not to be missed.

Five Stars