Before reading this book, I was pre-warned that it was emotional and left people sobbing. After reading the blurb, I could see why. I was keen to watch the film on Netflix but refused to do so until I had read the book (I can’t stand doing it the other way round!) so this went straight to the top of my pile when I bought it.
‘Five Feet Apart’ tells the story of Stella and Will, who both have CF (Cystic Fibrosis). Stella lives her life following the rules: taking her medicine on time; spending time in the hospital gym; keeping six feet away from other people with CF at all times. Then, Will arrives at the hospital. He is chaotic and fighting against the rules kept in place to keep him alive. Stella has created a safe space around her and Will threatens to bring this crashing down: she needs stability.
Soon, despite their differences, they build the foundations of a friendship which starts to blossom into something more. They’re both very aware of the shortness of life, though, and the risks that can come from their interactions.
The numerous people who told me this book was one of the most emotional that they’ve read, you weren’t wrong. The book was full of happy, inspiring moments which only made the sad moments even more devastating when they arrived.
Stella and Will are such opposite characters that their stories give you a juxtaposition of different reactions to the same situation. They develop as people in their own right, discovering who they really are, whilst also carving out a path in the world together. Then, there are characters like Poe, Barb and Abby who, despite not being the main focus, become so well interwoven into the story that you care about their future too.
There were moments in the book which left me upset and thinking about what had happened even after I had finished reading; one I didn’t see coming really impacted on the reader.
And for once, the film wasn’t too far away from the book. If anything, I cried more because I already knew what was coming!