Silvera, Adam. They Both Die at the End. Harper Teen, 2017. 373p. ISBN 9780062457790. $17.99. MS HS OT *****
Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio get their Death-Cast calls on the same day. It tells them that they are going to die tomorrow. Each of them logs into an app specifically designed to pair up people who don’t want to be alone on the day they die and the book unfolds over the course of their last day. Their lives have little in common. Mateo is a semi-agoraphobic teen living on his own while his father is in the hospital. Rufus is a grief-stricken teen living in a group home among friends and trying not to get into fights. Starting from these very different places, they set out together to have a whole life’s worth of experiences in one day and wrap up loose ends. Can Mateo take a few risks on his last day? Will Rufus decide to step out of his black & white life and live in full color for one day? Together they may be able to heal hurt relationships and find a sense of contentment with who they are. And just possibly, they might make the most special friendship of their lives. This stand out piece of fantasy set in near-future New York City is both philosophical and romantic. It is filled with internal musings and a wistful, longing feeling that fans of Nicola Yoon, Nina Lacour, and David Levithan will appreciate. Through Rufus and Mateo the book asks readers to consider what it means to really live. It is populated by diverse characters with protagonists who are Puerto Rican, Cuban, gay, and bisexual and secondary characters in various life situations including orphans and young mothers without partners. There is some language and violence including a fight and a gun, but there is no serious sexual content or substance abuse. Suitable for high school and mature middle school readers who are fans of thoughtful books about friendship and other relationships, and those interested in the big existential questions. But readers are warned: with a title like They Both Die at the End, keep the tissue nearby and don’t necessarily expect a happy ending.
Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library