This reader’s copy was given to me for free by the publisher, Hot Key Books. This does not influence my opinion in any way.
Gracie Dart has always worked hard and she’s got a wall covered with revision timetables and French verbs to prove it. But now GCSEs are behind her and she suddenly starts to think: what was the POINT of it all?
When Gracie thinks she’s dying of a disgusting tropical illness, she starts to worry she’s been wasting her best years being sensible. It’s like people say: you only live once – so isn’t it about time she started LIVING?
(OK, so the tropical illness turned out to be a fake-tan miscalculation. Anyone could make the same mistake.)
When Gracie decides to do something, she does it properly. Gracie Dart is about to live out her dreams. However embarrassing.
A new Jess Vallance book? I want to read it. It’s about the pressure we live under and what’s actually important in life? I NEED to read it. That was basically my thought process when I heard of the existence of You Only Live Once, and I was determined to quickly get my hands on it and devour it.
Okay so first up, I was never has obsessed with grades as Grace was. As long as I passed my exams, I didn’t care all too much about the grade I got (I do have to mention that the Belgian school system only cares about you passing high school, not about your total grade). That being said, I did start feeling all the pressure to perform well once I started working. I felt so much pressure that I even started burning out at a certain point.
This is why I was so intrigued by the story and why I just had to read it. So much pressure is put on teens and twenty-somethings today that it just isn’t healthy any more. And I love that Vallance took the time to tackle this topic in You Only Live Once. Yes it’s important to do well and have your future in mind, but on the other hand it’s also important to live and enjoy today.
Life was happening and it was leaving me behind.
Reading the main character Grace’s struggles to get the most out of life was absolutely entertaining and inspiring. Even though she isn’t always the most likable of characters, her journey feels about as realistic as it can get. Even if the events that are happening around her aren’t all that realistic themselves.
I couldn’t help but care for Grace, but also her little brother, her best friend, her grandma… these side characters were all so much fun to read and often made my heart melt with their honesty and realness. (Seriously, how can you not be charmed by a three-year-old boy who loves wearing princess dress and makes sandwiches out of everything he can find?)
I can’t say this was a candy-coated uplifting rosy read that I expected though. Some aspects of the story were a little… well, problematic isn’t the right word, but it gets pretty close. Still though, these aspects didn’t take away from the actual plot and somehow made You Only Live Once just a little more believable.
As I said, this funny contemporary read tackles a topic that is unbelievably important and will probably only get more important in the future. A definite must-read for all grades-focused teens and twenty-somethings out there and a fun beach-read for all others. Can’t wait to read the sequel!
Have you read this book? If not, does it sound interesting to you? If yes, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!