Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott review is here. I have to say I can’t believe I didn’t read this book sooner! The story centers around Stella Grant. A junior in high school with CF, better known as cystic fibrosis. Stella has a wildly popular YouTube channel centering around her battle with CF. She also invented an app to track her regimen when she needs her meds.
The story starts off with Stella in the hospital for a ‘tune-up,’ causing her to miss her school’s trip to Cabo, which she planned. Stella is depressed about it at first until fate steps in introducing her to Will Newman. Will is around the same age as Stella and also has CF, but he is worse since he also has B. Cepacia. A bacterial infection there is no cure for and takes a patient waiting for lungs off the list.
Stella finds herself thinking of Will. She knows he’s not doing his regimen like he should, so Stella gets Will to agree to start by allowing him to draw her. They begin to form a friendship, in which Will reveals he’d like to travel the world instead of being confined to a hospital. He tells Stella he’s been all over the world, but never seen it because he’s always getting treatment at a new facility. In turn, it becomes unveiled that Stella had a sister named Abby. She was fearless, traveled the world, doing everything Stella couldn’t. We learn Abby died on a trip, cliff diving accident where she broke her neck. A trip Stella should’ve been on with her if she hadn’t gotten sick.
It’s why Stella’s so focused on staying alive. Everyone was prepared for Stella to die, but no one ever thought Abby would be the first to die. A burden Stella carries on her shoulders since her parents are separated after being unable to handle Abby’s death. Soon, Stella finds herself falling in love with Will. He surprises her on the day she needs surgery to replace her infected G-tube by singing the song Abby always sang to her, hanging her picture in the operating room.
However, the problem is CF patients must remain six feet apart at all times, and when Nurse Barbra finds out about their interactions. She is furious because she lost two young CF patients who were also in love. This revelation scares Will off, never wanting to hurt Stella, especially since he is infected with B. Cepacia. If he ever gave that to Stella, she’d be taken off the transplant list immediately, like he was.
Po, another CF patient, and Stella’s best friend, tries to tell her it’s for the best, but Stella won’t give up. She decides that CF has taken enough from her and refuses to give up Will. So, she does a YouTube video talking about the risks of B. Cepacia, and how she is taking back one foot. Stella petitions Will that they always stay five feet away from each other, something he agrees too. They go on their first date in the hospital and spend hours talking to each other. It is then Stella learns Will’s birthday is the next day.
She surprises Will by putting together a secret birthday party in the cafeteria after it closes, inviting his friends and hers. Po cooks a fantastic meal and they laugh until Nurse Barbara shows up breaking up the party. Without giving too much away, something life-changing happens later that night, causing Stella to spiral. She leaves the hospital determined to see the lights in the park she and Abby never got to see. Seeing Will waiting for an Uber to leave. They venture to two miles to the park on foot.
It is there they reveal their deepest thoughts, and Stella gets life-changing news. One thing leads to another, and the story ends with the most heart-breaking, moving ending any two fictional characters in YA novels can have…
Overall, this novel is amazing. The story and the characters are vibrant and fun to read. It also incorporates love, heartbreak, and hope. A triple threat that also translated to the screen as it is a movie adaption as well. A fun fact is the screenplay was written before the novel was even published, which is why the book follows so close to the movie. However, I will say the ending of the book is hands-down better than the movie. I wished in the film they ended it like the book. It would’ve made the movie one of my favorites. The cast of the film was great. However, I wished Cole Sprouse who played Will was more heartfelt in certain moments. In some areas, he skimmed over the dialogue where I felt like if he slowed down, it would’ve been so much more believable.
As a carrier of CF, I ran the risk of having it when I was born. Thankfully, I didn’t, which is part of the reason I loved this story. I definitely recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. It makes watching the movie that much better!
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