November 21, 2017

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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera | SLJ Review

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redstarSILVERA, Adam. They Both Die at the End. 384p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062457790.

Gr 9 Up –Everyone who is going to die on a given day gets a call to let them know; not the when, or the how, or the why, but just notification that they will die on that day. Mateo and Rufus each get that call and are facing their last day without a loved one. But there’s an app for that. Combining a well-realized alternative present with a lovely romance, Silvera’s latest delivers what readers want in a book about dying teens. There’s no avoiding the cliches that go along with the idea that an impending end makes life more meaningful, but recasting a Lurlene McDaniel–style doomed teen romance with Latinx queer boys and having the societal changes wink at those clichés softens them and makes a better ­storytelling device. The overarching structure of meaningful coincidences making a magical day in New York has its predecessors—Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star being prime examples—but this title is a deft exploration of that trope. Silvera continues to masterfully integrate diversity, disability, and young queer voices into an appealing story with a lot of heart. VERDICT While most of the elements and themes of this work are not new, they are combined, realized, and diversified expertly in this title. A must-have for YA shelves.–L. Lee Butler, Hart Middle School, Washington, DC

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

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