Admittedly, I am not a big fan of short stories, neither am I of YA fiction. However, sometimes there are books which come along that break through this wall, and To Die To Live by Jason Hershey was certainly one.
To Die To Live tells the story of Thelonious “Theo” Mitchell who is adopted by his aunt and uncle following the loss of his mother. Having started a new school, he forms a strong friendship with the class “troublemaker”. When another tragedy strikes Theo, it leaves him pondering his life path and the meaning of it all.
This book deals with a lot of themes: friendship, loss, grief, embracing life. And, like many similar stories, it is sprinkled with inspiration and motivation. Sounds like thousands of other books out there, you might say? But this book is different; it is special.
Hershey has a wonderful way of writing which really puts you right in the head of a teenage boy. As I read every word, I became Theo and his feelings bubbled up inside me. The writing was very sombre, I would say, and simple, but that just added to the emotion I felt. It was a short story so not every detail was described but I liked this. Often, what you imagine is worse than the reality. What was not said by Hershey was imagined by me. Whether that was intentional or not, it added to the desired effect.
Hershey dealt with the theme of teenage grief wonderfully and I think this was the strongest part of the book. As mentioned above, not everything was explained. Again, this may have been a writing tactic but it was also a tactic of truth. Not everything in life can be explained, especially grief, and even more so, teenage grief.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this story but, for sure, it was a whole lot more than I though. The perfect length to cover during a short commute, I certainly recommend picking up a copy and reminding yourself life is there to be lived.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.