Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading Finding Balance by Kati Gardner! Read our participants’ reactions and follow along with us each week as we read through the book! Caution, spoilers below!
Catch up from Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, and Week 9.
By Anmol D.:
Being 26, it’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book. But I loved Kati Gardner’s Finding Balance. Reacting to the last few chapters (chapter 54 through the epilogue), the ending was predictable but I loved it all the same. The way Jase finally opened up not only to himself but to his friends and Mari was pulling at my heartstrings. The way Jase had control over his story and announced his cancer at the Gala resonated with me. As an ALL patient and survivor, I was also lucky enough to have control over my story. I told a few friends and family because as someone who brings the group together whenever we are all in town, it was going to be a bit harder to do that from the hospital. Though I was able to do it once, bringing together my high school friends and college friends with my amazing nurses (one of which was a cancer survivor around my age, who is now one of my cancer friends). But this was all to say that similar to Jase, I “announced” my diagnosis (and my treatment) as a form of advocacy. He did it for Camp Chemo, I did it to raise awareness and get more ethnically diverse donors on the bone marrow registry. Though, unlike Jase, with my diagnosis being at the age of 25, I didn’t get to go to places like Camp Chemo but have been able to gain some parallel experiences with young adult cancer advisory boards I am on. Hopefully, I am lucky enough to continue meeting other young adults that have gone through similar cancer experiences and can form friendships to Jase, Mari, and Davis (maybe on a First Descendants adventure, once COVID is manageable)!
By Mary Clare B.:
It’s Christmas and Jase asks his mother if he can speak at the New Year’s Eve gala for Camp Chemo. She is surprised but says yes. He helps prepare for the gala by polishing silver for the event. While he’s getting everything ready, Mari comes in to practice going up and down the stairs in the ballroom. They talk briefly and are both a little bit shy but neither one seems angry or upset.
Everyone comments that the ballroom looks like a fairy tale with all the twinkly lights. Jase is nervous, but he reflects that he’s feeling real happiness that he can breathe because of his new medicine. Mari is beautiful in her dress with an open back and Jase is all dressed up in a tuxedo. Jase really likes her dress. The ballroom is filled with family friends school friends and camp friends.
Mari is surrounded by her camp friends who calm her nerves, but they want details of the breakup. Before she can give too many details it is time for the ceremony to begin. Mari is surprised to see Jase going to the microphone, she had no idea he would be introducing her. Jase explains what Camp Chemo is and reveals to everyone his cancer history. He gives a loving introduction to Mari and whispers in her ear thank you for teaching me balance.
Jase is congratulated by his dad as he steps off the stage. He goes up to his school friends next and they all are somewhat dumbfounded and in shock by his admission of having cancer. Lindsay asks if he knew Mari before she came to their school. She wants to know if they were a thing. He says yes and answers some more questions. They slowly put all the pieces together and even connect that his heart issues are from cancer treatment. Lindsey feels betrayed and is angry with him. Jase responds by telling her off. Addison quickly confronts Jace about being a terrible person to Mari. Zeke reveals he knew all along, his mom is on the board of Camp Chemo. Chase then takes this opportunity to introduce his two groups of friends’ camp friends and school friends. Jase feels a huge sense of relief at having come clean. After all this, Jase and Mari go outside and have a kiss at midnight, without an audience.
Time jumps forward to another summer at camp. Jase and Mari are back to being a couple. They are playing capture the flag but this time they are winning. Jase concocted a plan to distract the other team by coupling up two team members who fall so dumb in live they can only concentrate on each other. The book ends with a joke about finding balance when Mari almost slips and falls.
Join us on Wednesday, May 12th for the live discussion with author, Kati Gardener! Make sure you’re on our Book Club email list for the Zoom link and all the details!