Title: You Only Live Once
Author: Jess Vallance
Series: Gracie Dart #1
Publication: 23rd August 2018 by Hot Key Books
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Fiction
Around the Year in 52 Books – A book with a warm atmosphere (centered on family, friendship, love or summer)
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.
This book is marketed at being good for fans of Geek Girl, which was completely spot on. It also reminded me a lot of Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson books. It was funny and enjoyable with some strong themes of friendship.
The book starts with Gracie coming back from holiday after her stressful GCSEs and taking herself off to hospital as, she has Googled it, she clearly has a tropical illness and is dying. Being prepared, she wees into a tub, pops it into her handbag and gets a single bus ticket to the hospital. On the way the bottle breaks in her bag, soaking her in urine. After a few hours wait she sees the Dr, who she off loads onto like a therapist. It turns out she’s not going to die after all! After her near-death(ish) experiece she decides she’s going to live life to the full and stats pushing herself out of her comfort zone by riding a horse along a beach (kind of), bungy jumping (what could possibly go wrong?) and taking her Gran on an impromptu trip to Paris.
It’s told entirely from Grace’s point of view and the author gets the teenage girl’s voice and thoughts spot on; from the humour, to the insecurities, to the dating. It captures family life, both the ups and downs. It even covers cutting friends out of your life because a “better offer” comes along.
A wonderful, funny and enjoyable read.