Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-After losing her mother to cancer, Cat chooses to take a gap year after graduation before starting college at Stanford. She joins the Students Without Borders, which is based in the fictional South American city of Calante. Cat arrives in the aftermath of a civil war and meets fellow volunteers, who have their own reasons for joining the program. This story alternates between the past and the present. The past chapters build up the significance of the volunteer program and give insight into Cat's frame of mind as she tries to cope with her mother's illness and the emotions that brought her to the breaking point. The present chapters show the denial and depression that she tries to keep hidden but that slowly rise to the surface. The narrative is at times predictable, with superfluous descriptive dialogue. The protagonist and some secondary characters feel slightly underdeveloped and one-dimensional. Readers will have a difficult time getting fully invested in the novel. VERDICT For fans of Susane Colasanti and Sarah Dessen.-Ericka Greer, Ouachita Parish Public Library, Monroe, LA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Before: Cat's beloved mother is dying of breast cancer. After: Cat takes a gap year to travel with Students without Borders to Calantes, a tiny, fictional country in South America. Cat can't really explain why she's embarked on this uncharacteristically adventurous journey, leaving her grief-stricken father alone. Maybe she needs something more vital than antidepressants to kick-start her broken heart. Alternating chapters tell of the ordeal of caring for a loved one with invincible cancer and of Cat's adventures in impoverished, war-torn Calantes, where Cat strikes up a camaraderie with fellow SWB volunteers and helps out in a medical clinic. And while the Calantes story is perhaps overstuffed with drama, it's a worthy complement to the horrifying encroachment of death in Cat's otherwise ordinary life. At home, for example, Cat is too numb to even consider a prom date, while in Calantes, she falls into a passionate love affair. Gold captures the poignancy of a mother's death with authenticity, alternating it with an adventure story that grapples with issues similar to those in Robert Hough's Diego's Crossing (2015).--Colson, Diane Copyright 2017 Booklist