Book Review: As Long As We Both Shall Live: Two Novels by Lurlene McDaniel

Summary (Book One: Till Death Do Us Part): 
A change is coming, April Lancaster’s fortune cookie reads. Be prepared. But how could she be prepared for the news that she has an inoperable brain tumor? April’s life will never be the same. Then she meets handsome Mark Gianni. Mark has cystic fibrosis, but he also has a passion for life . . . and for April. When he asks April to marry him, she’s happier than she’s ever been.

Summary (Book Two: For Better, For Worse, Forever)---contains spoilers for book one:

April thought she and Mark would be together forever. But since Mark’s death, April has never felt more alone. Then Brandon Benedict comes into her life. Brandon is lonely and angry—he and April have a lot in common. But April cannot tell Brandon about her illness. When April’s medical problems suddenly return, she must decide what to tell Brandon. Can the love she’s felt before help her now?

Release Date: October 28, 2003
Age Group: YA
Source: Library

I gravitate towards books about chronic illness...because I have one myself.  I tend to really relate to characters struggling with any kind of illness, and April's brain tumor and Mark's cystic fibrosis are what drew me towards these two books.

Book one: Till Death Do Us Part was my favorite of the two.  I loved how Mark chases April so determinedly until she falls for him.  I loved Mark's optimism and his outlook on life.  He had every reason to be depressed, having cystic fibrosis and knowing that his life span would be shortened because of it, not to mention the daily struggles he endured just to breathe.  But, he was one of the most positive characters I have ever read about.  He was a real glass-half-full type of person.  I loved that!

I didn't feel close to April in either of the books.  I think that this was due to the fact that the books were a third-person narrative.  I think a first person narrative would have been so much better.  I would have liked to be privy to April's innermost thoughts from her, not from an outside perspective.

Book two: For Better, For Worse, Forever, was just okay for me.  I never really identified with Brandon and he and Aprils' relationship was so doomed from the start, that I had a hard time cheering them on.  I did like his change at the end of the novel, and thought it was a fitting end.

Overall, I did enjoy these two novels.  They were short, fast reads (I read them both in less than three hours). They are not your typical happily-ever-after kind of book, and in fact, the ending of both books had me in tears.  They were sad, realistic, but well-written and I'm glad I read them.  Just be ready to have your tissues close by!


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