Early Departures by justin a. reynolds

What if you could bring your best friend back to life--but only for a short time?

Jamal's best friend, Q, doesn't know that he died, and that he's about to die . . . again. He doesn't know that Jamal tried to save him. And that the reason they haven't been friends for two years is because Jamal blames Q for the accident that killed his parents.

But what if Jamal could have a second chance? A new technology allows Q to be reanimated for a few weeks before he dies . . . permanently. And Q's mom is not about to let anyone ruin this miracle by telling Q about his impending death. So how can Jamal fix everything if he can't tell Q the truth?

TITLE: Early Departures 
AUTHOR: Justin A. Reynolds
PUBLISHER: Katherine Tegen Books
YEAR: 2020
LENGTH: 480 pages
AGE: Young Adult
GENRE: Science Fiction

*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

Early Departures balances grief, loss, and celebration to tell a story about the tenuous nature of life and the suddenness of death. The prose has a drifting or wavering quality early on, helping build a sense of fragility which perfectly fits the text. 

Besides the obvious themes of life and death, there's a lot of grappling with discomfort and truth. When is is honesty the best policy? How much does someone really need to know something when it's bad news they can't change? This book doesn’t pretend to have the right answer, it just tells one very moving version of what a small group of people try when they get a second chance to say goodbye. It's often sad but has some very happy moments, telling and showing ways that the characters choose to celebrate life while they can.

Jamal is a fantastic MC, he feels really earnest even when the book thinks he might not be doing the right thing in his personal life, and the whole effect works really well. This feels like the kind of book I’ll come back to when I need it. That doesn’t happen to be right now for me, but it offers a certain kind of catharsis that I appreciate.

CW for ableist language (brief), toxic relationship, grief, vomit, pregnancy, drowning, car accident, parental death, major character death, death.

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