By Geneive D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | March 29, 2020
Book Review: Five Feet Apart
Author: Rachael Lippincott
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, throws light on the medical conditions of Cystic Fibrosis and B. Cepacia (Burkholderia cepacia: a group of bacteria causing pneumonia in individuals with immunodeficiency, with another lung disease).
Considering the times we are in where we are told to maintain social distancing (in times of the pandemic called COVID-19) and are also on lockdown mode and in case we venture out, to stand three-feet apart, Five Feet Apart seemed to be the perfect antidote for making quality use of time.
The book throws light on what people suffering from these medical conditions go through, what they have to do in order to get those few precious breaths, and what they absolutely cannot do, so that they do not lose it.
Stella Grant, a girl with CF, has been in and out of Saint Grace’s Hospital in the US of A, since she was six-years-old. Stella takes everything seriously—she takes her medicines regularly, makes sure she does her treatments properly, and does everything and anything that can give her those few precious breaths. It drives her crazy when Will Newman, another CFer with B. Cepacia, she meets in the Hospital during their treatment, does the exact opposite. Will does not like to come for treatments and just wants to get out of the Hospital and live life as it is. He hates the idea of struggling for those few breaths of “borrowed air”.
Whenever they are in the Hospital for their respective treatment, they run into each other in the corridor. Initially, Stella hates Will’s attitude, but slowly, they connect. They spend time talking with each other, all the time maintaining a distance of ‘six feet’ prescribed by the medics for patients like these. Over a period of time, they want to spend more time with each other.
This distance of six feet, which is meant for safety, now seems like a giant brick wall keeping two people apart. After reading the book, you will know why it is called five feet apart!
Lippincott makes this story realistic, satisfying the reader. The reader knows that Stella and Will cannot be together because of their respective conditions. And Lippincott does not magically make the disease disappear, nor does she make both of them magically come together at the end. Nothing can change the fact that there will be a distance between them—it will always be there, and she leaves it at that.
What makes this book interesting is the way the characters are built up. Lippincott does not reveal everything about the characters from the beginning itself. She starts with their present situation, and takes us through flashbacks at certain points in the story, which creates a sort of suspense, edging on the reader (who is now eager to know more), to flip the pages in a hurry.
What arrests your attention the most is the simplicity of the language used; anybody can understand it, even with these complex diseases mentioned. The writer makes it clear that it is the message she is trying to convey, rather than the disease. And the message, at the end, when you realize what it is, makes you understand that life is more than longing for those few extra breaths for Stella and Will.
Five Feet Apart is not just for people suffering from these particular illnesses; it’s for each and every one of us. Everybody can relate to this story, because, at the end of the day, we all want something that we cannot have and we all want to give something that is intrinsically within us.
And this is what makes this book special—it does not have a clichéd fairytale ending.
A must read for those who love the suspense in a love story.
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