Having already read K.K. Hendin's previous work when I saw she had a new book coming out I knew I HAD to read it. Only the Good Die Young follows Milcah as she tries to pick up the pieces of her life after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and having to face the facts that she has to have a double mastectomy. Faced with facing death sooner than planned Milcah drops out of school, and tries to keep to herself, her only friend being Holly, a nurse who helps take care of Milcah whilst she is in hospital.
Only the Good Die Young is a hard hitting, fact facing read, but also intertwines the positive things in life, friends, having hope and a desire to live, to want to be alive and to celebrate each day you have. Milcah is a foster kid so doesn't have the support of family, but this certainly doesn't affect her outlook, and she is brutally honest about her future. She doesn't pretend that its all sunshine and butterflies, she faces the truth head on, and while this may cloud her judgement at times, she doesn't want sympathy off anyone and expects them to be honest with her.
"So the only option right now is to cut off my tits" I repeat, trying to be clear.Milcah's friend Holly treats her like a normal person, letting her have that small chance, the small time frame to be like an average girl, and not someone faced with cancer and death. She is a solid friendship for Milcah and is there for her when Milcah doesn't realise she needs someone.
After surgery Milcah's attitude changes, she constantly thinks of death and various ways that would be better to die of than from cancer. But when she is faced with the chance that her survival rates have significantly improved Milcah is lost and unsure about her future. After spending so long preparing to die, keeping others away from her and losing contact with her foster family, Milcah is lost and helpless, spinning around in circles trying to reorientate herself in her new future.
Milcah was an enigma, I wanted to praise her for fighting and for living a life, but she technically ran from her family and only lives because she has to and not because she has something to live for. She has a negative outlook on life in general and constantly thinks of death, but to keep going day after day having experienced what she has isn't easy, and while she thinks of death and ways to die she doesn't take the easy way out, and continues to go on, day after day. Granted her ideas on friendships could have done with a bit of improvement, but after Callum makes his presence known and refuses to take no for an answer Milcah realises that her sickness doesn't have to control her life and that she can be happy, have friends, and feel something for others.
Only the Good Die Young was a quick, emotional read. While I haven't experienced what Milcah has gone through personally, I have lost people close to me through breast cancer and I have seen how it affects others. The subject is dealt with in a tasteful and caring way, with enough detail from Milcah herself that you quickly become emotionally attached to the characters, and wish with all your heart that everything will work itself out in the end. There were a lot of tears reading Only the Good Die Young, but also some laughs.