Zac and Mia
by A.J. Betts
Published September 2nd 2014
by HMH Books for Young Readers
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this tough and tender young adult novel that's a lot about love (and a little about cancer).
Winner of the 2012 Australian Text Prize
"When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics." So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can't forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.
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WOW…just WOW! It was so easy to get wrapped up in this story and not want to put it down until I finished it. I absolutely LOVED Zac and Mia! Some readers are comparing this to The Fault in Our Stars, but really, this book stands on its own. Yes, it is about cancer and yes it is about two teenagers. But where there was a love connection in TFIOS, Zac and Mia is about friendship and how the powerful connection of that friendship can withstand anything life throws at them.
The story begins with Zac, a leukemia patient, in the hospital after receiving a bone marrow transplant. Zac had such a positive attitude about everything that life dished out for him and his sense of humor was a wonderful and much needed relief in a story that deals with a very tough issue. That comic relief was really needed when Mia enters the scene. She had just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma and was really bitter about it. She was more concerned with her appearance and her social life than needing to get better. She took out her frustration the first few days by blasting Lady Gaga in her hospital room, and that is how Zac and Mia’s friendship begins.
Zac and Mia is a wonderful story about friendship, dealing with the horrible aspects of a life threatening disease and growing up. I loved Zac’s family as they really were a great support team for Zac. It was really inspiring to ’watch’ Mia transform from a whining, self-absorbed teenager, to someone who began to think less of herself and to care more about others.
Overall, this was a fantastic story with well-developed and well-liked characters. The story flowed so smoothly and was well written. Ms. Betts did an outstanding job writing this one and I look forward to reading anything and everything that she publishes.
A great big thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers for providing me with an ARC of Zac and Mia to read and review.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
About the Author
I'm a Perth-based writer who writes realistic fiction for teenagers (14+) but adults enjoy them too. I'm also an English teacher, poet, writer of non-fiction texts, presenter and reader.