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Winner of the Gold Inky Award 2018
Age range 13+
This story describes the life of a cancer patient in a way that no other young adult book does, focusing not just on living with cancer, but going through it, with the help of patience, love, and friendship. Despite the ever-growing tumour in his head, Adam just wishes he was normal. This is until his latest operation, when everything seems like a lost hope, and he knows he isn't normal. He doesn't know what to do, because there is nothing he can do. All he feels he has left are his friends. But that may be all he needs.
Paper Cranes Don't Fly gets a great review at Reading Time
Paper Cranes Don't Fly is reviewed by Sue Warren
Read an interview with Peter Vu at Kids' Book Review.
'An inspiring novel in powerful language laced with humour that flows beautifully. It is full of warmth and unconditional love, and accents the strength and value of true friendship.' - Kids' Book Review
Buy Paper Cranes Don't Fly by Peter Vu from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
Book DetailsISBN: 9781925272765
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Book Review: Paper Cranes Don't Fly by Peter Vu - Reviewed by Ruby (17 Oct 2017)
Heartfelt and heartbreaking, Peter Vu’s Paper Cranes Don’t Fly had me blinking back tears more than once. It follows the story of Adam Auttenberg, a 17-year-old boy diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, which becomes more aggressive over time. Throughout his time in hospital, he makes friends with another patient, Rachael, and develops bonds with his nurses. His best friends, Tess and Ambrose, visit regularly, and over the course of the novel, we learn just how integral his friendships are to his identity and his happiness. Adam is a good kid in an unfortunate situation, however he makes it clear that he doesn’t want pity. He doesn’t want his story to be defined by his illness. And by highlighting the intricacies of his friendships, both past and present, Vu is able to tell Adam’s story in such a way that the reader gets to know him on a level that makes him so much more than his diagnosis. Flashbacks to primary school days illustrate the beginnings of a love between three friends that’s only strengthened over the years. It gives a touching insight into a bond that’s stood tests of time, distance and illness, and highlights why Adam’s friends have been essential to his happiness throughout his life.
Vu was diagnosed with a brainstem glioma when he was six years old, which gives Adam’s voice an even more honest and realistic sentiment. For this reason, among many, it’s impossible not to tear up when his situation begins to worsen. The friendships portrayed in the book are built on an unbreakable foundation of love, and witnessing cancer’s best efforts to undermine it is heart-wrenching.
One of the most heartbreaking moments of the novel is when Adam, Tess and Ambrose take revenge on Tess’ ex-boyfriend. The carefree rebellion the trio indulges in is reminiscent of that in John Green’s Paper Towns. Damaging the ex-boyfriend’s car and driving off into the night, Adam tastes a hint of the reckless, carefree youth his cancer is denying him.
Young adult novels often emphasise romantic love as the be-all-and-end-all form of the feeling, however Paper Cranes Don’t Fly deviates from this narrative. It touches upon ideas of romantic relationships, even hinting at the possibility of Adam and Rachael getting together if he wasn’t sick.
However, Vu’s novel is more greatly focused upon showcasing the love between friends, and how it is of equal, or even more importance, than that of romantic love. Adam’s friendships are essentially what he lives for. He distinguishes his, Tess’ and Ambrose’s bond from others’ through the realisation that “they can make [him] happy without really doing anything at all”. While he’s aware he may not have long left to enjoy these friendships, he knows that the love he and his friends have for each other is what’s made his life meaningful. And for that, he’s eternally grateful.
Suitable for ages 14 and above, this remarkably written, moving tale of love and friendship strays from the typical “cancer kid” narrative in stellar style.
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