Lose. A nuance of the English language. To lose someone, like they took a wrong turn on the way home from the grocery, or simply got separated in a crowd.
Maybe we use that word because the other one is too difficult to say. We’d rather not admit it to ourselves, let alone to others. Of course, maybe there’s also an innate hope that the loss is not irretrievable. That it can be reversed. That the person can be found again, someday.
In a time when I am experiencing loss, it occurred to me to make a list of YA books with themes of dying. The first book that popped into mind was The Fault in Our Stars. But then I remembered that somewhere, sometime, I heard someone (maybe John Green?) describe The Fault in Our Stars as a book that isn’t about dying, but about living.
Which sounds happier, more optimistic and all around better. Especially to me, right now.
So here are four YA novels, that aren’t about dying, but about LIVING:
In this hovering-at-the-edge tale, Mia chooses between life and death after a fatal accident claims her parents’ lives. When I finished If I Stay, I was reminded that every day we choose whether to live or die. It takes courage to make that choice. And courage to decide the extent to which we fulfill it.
The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson
When Lennie’s older sister dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted from the shadows to center stage of her own life. Upon finishing The Sky is Everywhere, I was reminded that it takes time to accept loss. It’s not something we come to terms with overnight. Losing someone affects us; it affects our decisions and how we view the world around us.
The Spectacular Now - Tim Tharp
When life-of-the-party Sutter meets social disaster Aimee, he takes it upon himself to show her how to live in the now. Of course, it doesn’t turn out how either of them expected. When it comes to The Spectacular Now, it’s really all in the name. It’s another way of saying: live in the moment. You can fret about the past and prepare for the future, but how you live in the present is life. It is being alive.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is terminal, but when she meets Augustus Waters at a cancer support group, their heartwarming love leads their stories to be rewritten. When I set down The Fault in Our Stars, I stood up. I got in my car, picked up my boyfriend and drove to one of the settings mentioned in the book. TFIOS is that inspiring. It made me want to live. Right away.
The movie trailer, released this week, might give you some idea as to its power.
Okay, this got a little bit COMPLETELY DRENCHED in clichés. Sorry. #notsorry
But just one more, before I go: Live a life worth living.
This post is dedicated to my beautiful, strong grandmother, who passed away Friday after a long and joyous life.