Title: Always and Forever
Author: Karla J. Nellenbach
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Mia's first reaction is outright disbelief. Obviously, a mistake has been made. Sixteen-year-old girls don't die. But, when the diagnosis is confirmed, she dives headlong into anger. If she has to die, why should it be of cancer? In fact, anything would be preferable to cancer. Better for her to say when, where, and especially how. Determined to meet death on her own terms, Mia devises scheme after scheme to get the job done. A “fall” down the basement stairs, driving her car off a bridge, and even a dance with a train all end in her survival. And through it all, Mia keeps her family and friends at arms' length with her destructive and hurtful behavior. With each failed suicide attempt and burned relationship, she slowly realizes that it’s not the dying that she’s afraid of, but the life she’ll be leaving behind. Now, that life is in a shambles. As time begins to slip through her fingers and death is upon her, Mia fights to rebuild the bridges she has destroyed, but can she do it before the clock runs out?
Karla J. Nellenbach divides her time between dayjobbing, writing, and indulging in her Winchester obsession. The rest of her day is spent playing butler to a cranky old man masquerading as a housecat and two rambunctious puppies that closely resemble small horses.
Born and raised in the wilds of Michigan, she knows two immutable facts: (1) it is entirely possible to live in a thumb, and (2) you definitely can go home again...you just might not survive the winter. Having resided in the sunscape of Florida for the last decade, she's still on a quest to see a real live alligator outside of the "petting" zoo.
I usually like to start a review by recapping how fantastic I thought the book was. But here I am some days later, after finishing Always and Forever and I still can't find the words to adequately describe the impact this book had on me. I admit to crying easily. I get misty eyed about many, many things. But it's very rare for me to find myself so overcome with emotion that I just want to curl into a ball and give in to the gut wrenching sobs that have overcome me.
I knew going in, just from reading the book description, that this wasn't going to be a happily ever after kind of book. But I was completely unprepared for these characters to take hold of me the way that they did. Completely and wholly. And even now just thinking about it, my eyes are struggling to keep the tears contained!!
Unfortunately death is an incredibly sad but inevitable part of life. But that should be once we have lived very long, happy and fulfilled lives. Not when we are sixteen and have already fought and beat cancer once!! Not when you have your whole life ahead of you!! Mia is given the news that cancer has again taken hold of her body, but this time it is inoperable. Once this news has been given to Mia and her family we take the journey with her through the different emotions as she struggles to accept that she is not going to have that long and happy life.
Always and Forever is full of such wonderful characters. Mia just slammed her way into my heart. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I got angry with her and I loved with her. As she pushed her family and friends away I just wanted to hug her and tell her to let these people that love her in. Let them treasure what time they have left!! And then there was Kal... He is just full of love and goodness and I fell completely in love with him. Him and Mia were so perfectly made for each other.
The final scene in the book broke me, not just for the subject matter but for the beauty of the writing. The author's writing is wonderful throughout the whole book, but that final scene completely nailed it for me!!! Heartbreakingly beautiful!!!
There are few certainties in life, but one of them is that I will be reading anything and everything that
Karla J. Nellenbach writes from here on out!!
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