Release Date: December 8, 2011
Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.
This one was very surprising and original. As far as contemporary fiction goes, very few books step out of a "normal" setting zone. This book blew all the standards out the window. Cameron is a girl, she's fighting cancer, she hula-dances at Disney World and is pretty much one of the coolest wittiest main characters you'll come across. The overall background including her hula dancing, coming from a Disney World performing family, her Italian grandmother, and even some of the crazy stuff like the donkey incident were just plain extraordinary, both in the awesome and the out-of-the-ordinary sense of the word.
Even though it has this Dessen feel to it, it seems less centered around the romance than it is around the other issues. I'm not sure if this pleased me or not, I just know it stood out. Then it also breaks the norm by being somewhat magical realism, which I love but we don't see a lot of in YA. Cam travels to a miracle town called Promise, a place that's been known for its strange little miracles, and where Cam's mom hopes that Cam will be happy and try to forget the fact that she's dying (if not heal).
It was just delightful to read a very thought-out story that steps out of what we're used to, and deals with so much stuff and has so many strong messages to offer. Beautiful writing, even though I did feel a little confused between characters sometimes--I always prefer first person in contemporary, and I cant help but wonder how different this would be if the author hadn't chosen third person narration.
Either way, it's one of those books you do not want to miss if you enjoy good realistic fiction, and I strongly recommend it for all Sarah Dessen fans.