“If I Should Die Before I Wake” by Lurlene McDaniel


If I Should Die Before I Wake, by Lurlene McDaniel, is like a 1980s G-rated version of The Fault in Our Stars. Get out the tissues, because #sicklit is guaranteed to make you cry.

The premise is that 14-year-old Deanne Vandervoot is looking for a way to escape her mother’s plans for Deanne to spend all summer socializing at the country club. Instead of hanging out by the pool underneath Mrs. Vandervoot’s scrutiny, Deanne volunteers at her father’s hospital instead, where she meets a very special cancer patient named Matt.

I think it would be really unfair to judge If I Should Die Before I Wake by modern standards because at this point in time, 1983 means it is historical fiction. Technology was different, slang was different, and reader expectations of what YA books “need” were different. Even a 14-year-old main character is really unusual in YA books today.

But even though there wasn’t any witty dialogue or snarky comments in this book, there was an engaging storyline. Did I need a box of tissues handy? You bet.

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