Remember when the New Adult genre burst onto the scene a couple of years ago and was suddenly all the rage? As I don’t read much Young Adult fiction, I never really looked into New Adult or figured out the difference. After reading K. K. Hendin’s Only the Good Die Young, the light bulb finally went off in my head and I went, “Ohhhhh, now I get it!” Aiming slightly older than typical YA, Only the Good Die Young is about Milcah Daniels, an eighteen-year-old facing stage three breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and the possibility of dying very soon.
When we meet Milcah, she’s very bitter and angry. She’s a smart girl who’s supposed to be living up her first year in college; instead, she’s living in an empty apartment in Houston going to her cancer treatments. She’s also a foster kid, so even though she’s eighteen, she qualifies for assistance from the state with certain conditions, one being that she must re-enroll in school (this time through an online program). She doesn’t see the point in doing that since she thinks her death is imminent, but until she does die, she’s decided to just go through the motions of life.
One day, Milcah sees a new tattoo parlor and decides to go in, and she meets the sexy tattoo artist named Callum Scott. The two hit it off, and though it’s obvious Callum wants more, Milcah keeps her diagnosis a secret and keeps pulling away from him every time he tries to build on their friendship. She doesn’t see the point in getting close to anyone because she’s going to die anyway and they’ll just get hurt.
Spoiler-ish alert ahead…
I liked this book, but it was not without its problems, particularly one that required a pretty big suspension of belief: Milcah is a foster kid, yes, but she does have a family. She ran away after her cancer diagnosis for reasons I won’t discuss. What I want to know is: how the hell did she manage to go off and be alone — under the supervision/ documentation of a case worker, no less — without her family finding out where she was? One can’t (I hope) just go up to a case worker and be like, “Hi, I don’t have a family. Help me. By the way, I also have stage three breast cancer and need to move to Houston.” You know? How convenient. It’s something I’d be semi-willing to overlook if so much of the book didn’t hinge on Milcah’s alone-ness.
That said, it’s an entertaining book with an element of unconventional romance. It has its share of angsty melodrama, but it’s engaging and fast-paced. I would totally be willing to read some of Hendin’s other books.
Only the Good Die Young was released through Amazon in March 2014.