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I'll See You Again, by Chris Bedell

I'll See You Again, by Chris Bedell

 
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Book Info

About the Author
My previous publishing credits include Thought Catalog, Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Pidgeonholes Magazine, Abbreviate Journal, Short-Story.me, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Chicago Literati, The Vignette Review, Teleport Magazine, Entropy Magazine, Inklette Magazine, Sprout Magazine, and The Drunken Odyssey. I’m also a contributing blog writer to Moledro Magazine and YAtopia. I graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May of 2016.
Publication Date
March 06, 2020
Available Formats
Kindle, KU
Pages
227
Content Warning
parental illness/death, suicide, cancer, depression, parental abandonment, and mental health issues
ISBN
979-8621400293
ASIN
B084ZCD28X
It’s the start of his senior year, and Cyrus should be worried about college applications, procrastinating on homework, and staying up past his bedtime. And he does, until his mother’s cancer returns.

To make matters worse, Nico Valentine—the person Cyrus hates most—insists on being his friend. Carefree, flirtatious, and spontaneous, Nico is everything Cyrus’s childhood never allowed him to be. When their English teacher offers Cyrus extra credit to tutor Nico, Cyrus knows he shouldn’t accept. He could use the distraction, though.

A fling soon ensues, and Cyrus realizes they have more in common than he thought. What is more, Nico is the first person who seems to get him and who is there no matter what. But, if Cyrus wants his romance with Nico to turn into something real, he’ll have to do something he’s never done before—be vulnerable with another person.

Adam Silvera’s HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME meets Rachel Lynn Solomon’s YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE in this tale of heartbreak and second chances.

Content Advisory:
This novel contains discussions and scenes of self-harm and suicide ideation.

Editor review

1 review
Touching Romance
Overall
 
4.0
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
POV: 1st person, one character


Disclaimer: Before we start, I have to say that this story hit close-to-home for me. Like the MC's mother, I had Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was 15, and was treated with intense chemo and a stem cell transplant, as well as chemo injected up my spine. As I'm in the UK, the treatment and attitudes differ. However, I've had to find a halfway point between my experience and the fictional story, to give the book the time and space to shine and view it as any other reader might.

~

I'll See You Again is a love story that is equal parts romantic and familial, exploring the harsh realities of life, teen drama and loss while Cyrus navigates the bloom of first love.

This is a YA story told in a 1st person, almost diary concept, with strong themes that touches upon some tough subjects, but it does so with sensitivity and care. Cyrus is 100% a genuine teenager, dealing with real issues, real drama and reacting as any other teenager of his age would in the same circumstances. With teen drama abound, the story explores what it's like to be a teenager with a sick/dying parent while navigating first love.
The story is equally split between Cyrus' first real romance and his world crumbling around him as his mother suffers a cancer relapse after a brief remission. As these stories are so deeply intertwined and hold equal weight to Cyrus, the book begins immediately with both events – Cyrus' mother breaks the news of her relapse and we get our first glimpse of Nico, the love interest.

When it comes to characters, there are a few key characters who are throughout the book:
Cyrus, the main character. Nico, the love interest. Parker and Geneva, the best friends. Mom and Grandma. There are other characters who appear for varying times, but these are the main, consistent players who have a big part in the story.

The entire book is told in Cyrus' POV, but I found that I actually connected much more to Nico, the love interest. I wasn't overly fond of Cyrus at times, as his realistic opinions and approaches to his mother's illness often had him in direct opposition to my experiences, which meant it was harder for me to connect to him. Whereas, I really bonded to Nico from the start, due to his caring and open-hearted attitude and behaviour.
For me, Nico was a naturally mature character, well rounded and well explored personality, while Cyrus was a teenager in constant flux, still trying to figure out who he was and where he fitted in. He was conflicted, in deep pain, and was really good at lying to himself, so I felt less sure of who he was going to become and whether I could relate to him. Perhaps because I've been through that phase and moved beyond it, I can no longer connect as deeply to it. In many ways, I'm more like Nico, because I've dealt with that loss, grieved for it, and come through it.
When Cyrus and Nico first came together, I wasn't sure how it would work as a relationship. Cyrus had a habit of reacting rather than thinking, and he could be a bit of an ass to Nico. But, once we got to know Cyrus better, his deep-rooted depression, self-doubt, and feelings of abandonment and repressed anger were clear. They made sense of how he felt and why he was so quick to react with anger, sarcasm and by lying to others as much as he lied to himself. The key feature of Cyrus' issues throughout the book stemmed from him hiding his true feelings behind a mask that, only in extreme situations, is removed to show his true pain.
Nico is a beautiful salve to Cyrus' deepest pains. Watching them grow together, open up and support each other through every trial, is a truly beautiful journey. They know how to support, when to push and when to back off, and where they need to work on their relationship. Nico was a solid shoulder to lean on, with experience that gave Cyrus the confidence to expose his vulnerable side.
I loved how Cyrus and Nico's relationship began as a tentative tutorship, then friendship, and moved onto a relationship. It was a lovely and slow progression from one phase to another. It was a nice deviation from the typical YA concept, to have the rich, popular kid being the one who had to work to gain Cyrus' attention and affection. Similarly, Cyrus wasn't the typical emo teenager with no friends, but he had a chip on his shoulder, and melted once he knew Nico returned his feelings.
When the big drama happened, it made sense that this strong, well held-together lad of Nico self-destructed, self-sabotaged and completely fell apart, brokenhearted. He'd been so strong throughout that it was almost inevitable. Similarly, Cyrus went from this broken, depressed teenager on the verge of breakdown to someone strong, who could hold his own, who saw and recognised the mistakes of his past behaviour, and had let his experiences mature him.
By the end of the book, I could understand their journey, appreciate the battles they'd fought to get to where they were, and how they were so reach that place of “I'll See You Again.” At the end, the title made sense and became a beautiful connection.

When it comes to the other characters, I wasn't overly fond of Mom or Grandma, as their opinions could be hard, harsh and well-set. They didn't often see the middle ground, and sometimes guided Cyrus in the wrong direction. But each character was a clear, formative influence on Cyrus' personality.
I felt like Parker and Geneva weren't the best friends they should have been. They were more concerned about having sex than supporting Cyrus. However, as with most of the teenagers in this book, I appreciated that this was true to form. My own friends were exactly like Parker and Geneva during my treatment (though I was 90% hospital-bound) so I can absolutely say that their portrayal was spot-on realistic. Though it made them less-supportive friends to Cyrus, it was an honest reflection of how teenagers view a somewhat distant medical emergency. When it's not their family, teenagers can often forget that the whole world falls apart for those directly affected by cancer.
Strangely, I was also more fond of Parker than Geneva. While they were a couple, I found Geneva was a bit too laid-back and unconcerned by everything in life that wasn't about her, while Parker (despite one brief sentence) was always thinking of the bigger picture. He supported Cyrus more, and when Geneve kept her HUGE secret from him, I feel he reacted reasonably for a teenager whose entire life could have changed drastically because of that secret. It was another instance of where my opinion and the characters didn't match up, but I could appreciate the characters sticking to their individual personalities, and opinions.
Saying that, all the teenagers in the book are absolutely realistic. Sometimes thoughtless, sometimes dumb and naive, sometimes trying too hard to be mature and pretend they know everything, while also being vulnerable, emotional, and making mistakes that can lead to trouble, drama or pain. There's some underage drinking, swearing, and off-page fade-to-black sex. But everything they do, say, and think is a clear indication of realistic teenagers behaving as any other teenager would.

The author did a great job of making a character and sticking to it; they never wavered on characterisation or conviction, never faltered in showing Cyrus' opinions, and never shied away from exploring the deep, dark and personal mental health issues that all people experience when affected by cancer or a terminal illness.

OVERALL

There were a few instances where I felt the story faltered. For example, a nurse keeping a suicide attempt a secret is a dangerous thing, as it doesn't help the sufferer get the help they need. But, by the time I finished the book, I understood the decision.
I wasn't keen on how every character behaved and thought about Darien, Cyrus' absent father. His treatment felt harsh, especially when it resulted in such extreme consequences. I understood from the start that he was the “villain” of the story, but the hostility and violence seemed disproportionate to his crimes.
I would have liked a little more expansion of detail and emotional exploration, just to help me feel more connected to Cyrus through the first half of the book. There were a few editing/grammar issues that were minor but noticable. And I felt the cover and blurb represented a much more up-beat story, compared to the starkly heavy realism that was within. I also think that, while it's vitally important that Cyrus' mother has cancer, it was mentioned a little too often; it was made clear throughout Cyrus' words and thoughts, behaviours and experiences, so it didn't need to be repeated as often as it was. Little things that would have elevated the story a little more.

In the end, I really enjoyed the overall story for what it was, how it explored the concepts and relationships within, and the subtle characterisation that let us watch each character grow and evolve over the span of nearly two years that the book progressed through.
The romance was beautiful. The growth of the characters was refreshing and realistic. While Cyrus' story was often serious, it had enough moments of light and joy, of love and friendship to keep the story from feeling oppressive or heavy.
By the time story ended, I saw Cyrus for the complex, yet teenage, character he was and the trials he had successfully endured. I appreciated Nico for what he added to Cyrus' story, but my feelings for both character flipped constantly while reading. While the story had quirks and twists abound, throughout the timeline, the story never strayed from where it was heading.

I'll See You Again began as a teen drama and blossomed into a story of first love and self-discovery. It's a story of faith, love, and family that manages to balance real life with a dream of the future. Cyrus didn't immediately capture my heart; he slipped in a little at a time and overwhelmed me.

~

Favourite Quotes

“I didn't know it was possible to feel what I felt when kissing Nico. Almost as if nothing else mattered while Nico and I shared that moment of passion—not even my worries about Mom's health.”
EW
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