Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: A Taylor-Made Life by Kary Rader

Published July 2013

About the Book:
They lived the life they were given; they loved the life they made.

Cheerleader Taylor Smith doesn’t want to die a virgin. Unfortunately, if the terminally-ill leukemia patient doesn't find a lover or a stem-cell match within months, her fear will become reality. When her cancer mentor is revealed to be a hottie entrepreneur from California, it seems fate might finally be on her side.

Tech-geek Gavin Taylor has everything he ever wanted, except someone to grieve for him when he's gone. With his melanoma cancer beyond the help of his riches, he agrees to participate in a cancer patient mentoring program where he's matched with a dying teen from Texas. Despite his immediate attraction, the Silicon Valley whiz intends only to provide friendship and happy memories to the beautiful, young woman who is determined to win his love.

When it's discovered that his frozen sperm and her harvested eggs could lead to a cure, Taylor's mother offers to be a surrogate. And Gavin must decide if he can risk the heart he has never given and a child he'll never know to a girl he just met.

My Take:

Teens and Cancer are two things that shouldn’t go together, like ever, but of course they do in real life and fiction is just trying to keep up. Ms. Rader does a great job of keeping it real while infusing the star-crossed love story with so much emotion is just bubbles right out of the pages.

Be warned, you will cry. But some of those tears are happy ones, believe it or not.

Okay, first of all I have to admit that I cried my way through THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green earlier this summer. It’s one of my new favorite books and John Green is truly amazing with words.

A TAYLOR-MADE LIFE is lighter than Green’s book, despite having similarities in theme. Cheerleader Taylor Smith is a much more optimistic heroine, and more of her focus is on the love aspect of her life than the looming spectre of death – not a lot of the gallows humor that Green employed. But Taylor is a totally believable, sweet and very likeable character, and all of her thoughts and actions are well within her range.

Tech genius and entrepreneur Gavin Taylor is a loner with a sad childhood and no real friends. He’s hired a matchmaker so that he can find a woman to marry before he dies. He just wants someone to miss him when he’s gone. On the edge of believable, but also truly sad. The string of women he goes out with are what you would expect a billionaire to date: beautiful, cultured, and in it for the money. Which is why Taylor is such a breath of fresh air in his life, even though he’s not thinking of her as a date. Just as a friend and fellow cancer patient.

The love story progresses quickly – by necessity – and some readers might have a problem with that aspect. Or with the difference in Taylor’s and Gavin’s ages, which seems large at first. Most high school seniors are at a different place entirely than a young twenty-something entrepreneur, but given Taylor’s experiences because of her cancer, she’s had to grow up faster than normal in so many ways.

The problem I have with the book is the last part, which I can’t go into in much detail or it will definitely spoil things for the reader. Everything about the love story was real and believable, hands down. The business side of things toward the end swerved off the road and felt too easy. But I kept reading, and was glad that I did.

Ms. Rader does a great job in giving us dueling perspectives from Gavin and Taylor, although I found it a little confusing at first that Taylor’s chapters were in first person and Gavin’s weren’t. But I got used to the shifts, which do help define the characters.

If you’re looking for a tear-jerker to add to your summer reading, I would totally recommend this book. Don’t put it in your beach bag, though – wait for a rainy day and curl up on the couch alone, or find that Adirondack chair at the edge of the lawn and bring a box of Kleenex. Because you’ll definitely need it.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It's available now on Amazon, and at $3.99 for Kindle is definitely well worth every penny. You can Buy it here.

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