I watched the movie when it came out in the cinema years ago and decided to give the book a go. I don’t really remember the movie but I remembered enough to know how the story goes.
The first thing I was not expecting when I read the book was that it switches point of view a lot. I have not read anything that switches character point of view that much since I read fanfiction. It was kind of hard to follow along at first.
The book switches between the point of view of Anna, her parents Brian and Sara, her brother Jesse, and also her lawyer Campbell and her appointed guardian ad-Litem Julia. That is a lot of people to cycle through. And it’s a lot to take in for the first couple of chapters. I guess you get the hang of it but it, but I was definitely confused the first time I read from Julia’s point of view because I was like “who is this?”, I thought it was a completely different story and I had missed something at first.
I also feel the Julia/Campbell side story isn’t really needed and is kind of annoying. I mean they cut it out of the movie entirely so I didn’t know it was a thing until I read the book. But probably wouldn’t have missed it if it wasn’t there.
One thing I thought was interesting was that a lot of Sara’s point of view parts of the story were set in the past. Telling the story of the family’s struggle throughout the years as they dealt with Kate’s health issues. I suppose this is to give some context to how they ended up where they are today.
But if anything it annoyed me. The way that the parents were so focused on one child that they neglected their other two. I mean Jesse is basically abandoned and left to fend for himself and Anna is only important because she serves a purpose for Kate. Like it’s crazy.
I suppose I would understand if I was in that situation, I mean you can understand people’s actions to a degree but it made me so angry when reading.
Then there was Brian who, kind of just took himself out of the equation sometimes by working to ignore his problems. Again, not a fan.
Overall I guess the book did make the points it wanted to, about how parents aren’t always suited to make the right decisions for their children when one of them is sick. And how family life is anything but simple.
I think it is an interesting story and a good read if you’re into that kind of thing. Everyone’s point of view is written well and you can see the different personalities come through.
Though I did find Jesse’s additions to the story kind of random – another thing you wouldn’t have missed if it wasn’t there. It was just him off on his own setting fires about the place because he felt like he had no control over anything else. Kind of seemed like it was meant to be a bigger moment than it was when Brian found out it was Jesse starting all the fires.
Aside from all that I think the thing that upset me the most was the ending. A different ending than the one the movie had. It kind of just all happened at once and it almost felt like was all the drama that happened really worth it? I mean I was so done with the book by then…it just made me sad. I guess that was the point…
I felt it was disappointing though, but still overall a good read. Even though I felt like I came out of it having more negatives than positives I still enjoyed it for what it was. Though if I had to choose between the book or the movie I would probably choose the movie.
I wonder if I would have liked the book a bit more if it was written in only Anna’s point of view. Though I suppose to really understand everything fully you needed the perspectives of the others. Because obviously, Anna’s view of what was going on was going to be different from her parents’. So maybe it was good to have the insight from her parent’s compared to what Anna wanted. But they still had a few perspectives too many in my opinion.
Apart from that, the book was still interesting, something very different than any of the other books I’ve read this year. So I will give it that. The rating I have given it on Goodreads is 3/5 stars. Because I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either. It fell somewhere in the middle for me, though probably a bit more on the negative side than positive.
And now that I have finished this book, I have officially completed my goal of reading 12 books in 2018! It’s been a journey and I feel really accomplished to have stuck with it. Of course, now that the goal is complete I know I must strive for more next year. But until then, I’m sure I can fit one more book in before the year is out…stay tuned to find out what it is!
~ Courtney x