I read this book in one sitting, in one night, in a yurt in Southern Oregon. When I picked it up I expected to read a few chapters an go to bed. But Rob Schneider had different ideas. With familiar, but well-drawn, characters and a pretty unique premise, this book hooked me. The book mixes a few of my favorite things together. (1) A unique, near future, slightly apocalyptic vibe. There’s a new strain of completely drug resistant TB. People with it are being shipped off to sanitariums – to try to heal, but also to keep them from spreading the disease to others. (2) Boarding school books. A sanatorium for teenagers is basically like a boarding school, but without much emphasis on school. Even though they have a terminal disease, that doesn’t stop the teenagers in this book from getting up to antics that don’t seem all that different from Looking for Alaska, by John Green. (3) Romance. Lane goes to Lantham House with two goals in mind – healing as fast as possible and keeping up with his AP classes while he’s away. These goals, and his entire life, will change when he meets Sadie. Let me tell you this book is swoon city.
Aside from these three elements, which practically guaranteed I’d like this book, I think the pretend/near future setting created this safe space to really think about illness and death. It also treated these subjects with a wry gallows humor. The tag line on the cover demonstrates this perfectly: Life goes on until it doesn’t.
Over time, some will heal and forget all about their sick friends. Others will get sicker. And the outside world continues to threaten what they’ve created in this strange, insular community.
This book was a home run for me (even though Lantham House definitely doesn’t have a baseball team, because only light exercise is allowed). If anyone else has read it I’d love to know your thoughts. Also … happy almost Valentine’s Day!