DiscoverYoung Adult

The Best Week That Never Happened

By

Must read 🏆

Too good to be missed! It has all the flavors that make it a wonderful read. Grab it and sail to Hawaii into an adventure like never before.

Synopsis

After her parents’ bitter divorce, family vacations to the Big Island in Hawaii ceased. But across the miles, eighteen-year-old Tegan Rossi remains connected to local Kai Kapule, her best friend from childhood. Now, Tegan finds herself alone and confused about how she got to the Big Island. With no wallet, no cell phone, purse, or plane ticket, Tegan struggles to piece together what happened. She must have come to surprise-visit Kai. Right?

As the teens grow even closer, Tegan pushes aside her worries and gets swept away in the vacation of her dreams. But each morning, Tegan startles awake from nightmares that become more difficult to ignore. Something is eerily amiss. Why is there a strange gap in her memory? Why can’t she reach her parents or friends from home? And what’s with the mysterious hourglass tattoo over her heart?

Kai promises to help Tegan figure out what is going on. But the answers they find only lead to more questions. As the week unfolds, Tegan will experience the magic of first love, the hope of second chances, and the bittersweet joy and grief of being human.

I kept putting off writing this review because I knew that by the end I would have a stack of tissues wet with my tears. Dallas' debut novel has every flavor to make it a bestseller. I was drawn to the book by the blurb which was mysterious and yet gave away the main premise. "What if, when you died, you got to relive The Best Week of Your Life - but you died too soon, and The Best Week of Your Life hadn’t happened yet?".


I knew that the book was going to be a heart-breaker and most probably leave me with puffy eyes and dullness. Braving this knowledge, I read the book and was sucked deep into it. I read the book in one sitting. On my second reading, I found myself pausing to avoid tears and the dull ache that arose due to the circumstances the characters find themselves in.


I knew from page one that this book would break my heart into shreds and that it might even drain me emotionally. The thought was always at the back of my mind while reading. It was like knowing you are about to get cut, but not sure when the knife will hit you.


The book is about childhood friends, Kai and Tegan. Kai and Tegan are best friends which strengthens over a period of time and develops into love which both fear to admit. Fate plays a cruel game and the lovers find their way back to each other after a tragic accident strikes Tegan. The book then further explore this relationship where they both confess their love to each other despite their fears and anxieties. Isn't this the same in real life too? We fear that we will lose a person if we admit our true feelings. Often regretting too late, thinking "what if?"


Their relationship is dealt with masterfully. It sneaks upon you without a shadow. You will be engulfed in their love and be an active participant with them. I won't reveal the story because it will ruin the pleasure of reading.


You will be aware of the bitter truth, but it will still kill you when Kai and Tegan discover the devastating truth for themselves. You wish you could hug and console them. Holding back the tears is very difficult when reading this book – it will make you cry with love, with pain, with joy and in revelation. Each page is laced with so much emotion that one wonders how the author managed to capture it all.


This is a great debut novel; I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend everyone read the book at least once. It's not just a book about friendship or family or romance. It is also about giving life a second chance and to attempt to live beyond fear. There are important life lessons that one can take away. We don't know which hour will be our last, and this should not stop us from living our best lives. There are beautiful words that can be etched into our minds.


We can also see that a lot of reading and research has gone into writing the novel, as evident by the Hawaiian-based myths and legends that are interspersed throughout the book.


The Best Week that Never Happened is heartrendingly beautiful. Words seemed to flow with a mind of their own before I even framed them. Such is the beauty and power of this magnificent novel. No book has touched me this way after reading it for quite some time. This book is a rare gem that will make you appreciate everything and everyone that you have in your life. Come, close your eyes, learn to trust, and fall in love all over again.


I received an ARC of this book in exchange of a honest review. My views about the work are not influenced or biased towards the author or publisher.

Reviewed by

I am open to trying new things. Being a librarian reading keeps me alive and helps me live new lives each time I read.

Synopsis

After her parents’ bitter divorce, family vacations to the Big Island in Hawaii ceased. But across the miles, eighteen-year-old Tegan Rossi remains connected to local Kai Kapule, her best friend from childhood. Now, Tegan finds herself alone and confused about how she got to the Big Island. With no wallet, no cell phone, purse, or plane ticket, Tegan struggles to piece together what happened. She must have come to surprise-visit Kai. Right?

As the teens grow even closer, Tegan pushes aside her worries and gets swept away in the vacation of her dreams. But each morning, Tegan startles awake from nightmares that become more difficult to ignore. Something is eerily amiss. Why is there a strange gap in her memory? Why can’t she reach her parents or friends from home? And what’s with the mysterious hourglass tattoo over her heart?

Kai promises to help Tegan figure out what is going on. But the answers they find only lead to more questions. As the week unfolds, Tegan will experience the magic of first love, the hope of second chances, and the bittersweet joy and grief of being human.

Part One

The Fish That Swim up the Waterfall


At Akaka Falls, on the Big Island of Hawaii, there is a fish called the o’opu alama’o. These fish are born in the waters above the falls. Their babies drift in the current all the way down the falls, down the river, and out to the Pacific Ocean. There, they grow into adult fish.

When it is time, they begin to swim back from whence they came, up the freshwater streams toward Akaka Falls. At the base of the waterfall—which is more than four hundred feet high—they do an amazing thing. Using a sucker on their bellies, the fish climb up the sheer cliff wall, painstakingly making their way up and up and up, until they reach the top of the waterfall. There, they hatch the eggs of the next generation of o’opu alama’o, new fish that will make the same journey.

The o’opu alama’o, you see, understand that life is a cycle. We could all learn from these fish. Sometimes we must hoist ourselves up waterfalls in our own lives, back to our origins, back to where we began.




DEADLY TRAIN ACCIDENT IN VIRGINIA


Sixty-eight people were killed and hundreds wounded in a commuter train accident on the Northeast Corridor from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, on Monday. The train unaccountably derailed, and the first two cars careened into the mountainside, killing sixty-seven passengers along with the train conductor. Eight passengers remain missing.

Authorities have not announced the cause of the accident and are withholding further details pending further investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Vigils are being held for the victims in Philadelphia and Washington.



***



hey tegan,

i know it’s been a while. i was just thinking of you randomly today and that time we followed the sea turtle. remember how we thought we could chase her all around the world? bet we could have, if your parents hadn’t called you in for dinner.

are you still mad at me? i hope not, because i miss you. i’m not mad at you anymore. i’m sorry for ghosting you. truce?

—kai



MONDAY


When I open my eyes and sit up, everything is dark. My brain is cottony, and my eyes won’t focus. I can’t remember where I am or how I got here. I’m not afraid. I mostly feel … empty.

The warm air is humid and heavy. Beads of sweat trickle down my back, even though I’m wearing a thin tank top and jean shorts. I take a deep breath. Then another. I am sitting on the bare ground, hard and bumpy. There are rocks, sharp and pointy as blades. Impulsively, I slip one into the pocket of my shorts. Protection.

When I stand, I hit my head on something hard. A sloping roof? A shelf of rock? Has someone kidnapped me and taken me captive underground? I should be terrified, but I’m mostly confused and curious. Something about this place seems familiar … but whatever the memory is, it remains out of reach, like wisps of clouds passing through my brain, impossible to grasp.

Gradually, my eyes adjust to the dimness. Black walls of rock surround me. I begin crawling forward on my hands and knees, a strange anticipation fluttering in my chest. If I’m lost, why do I have this hopeful feeling? The rocks graze my bare knees and sting my palms. My eyes blink against the darkness. And then, I see it—a shaft of light, up ahead. I crawl faster.

The roof of rock slopes up and up until I find myself in a large dark chamber. A shaft of light streams down through an opening in the ceiling, like the Pantheon in Rome, which I think I’ve visited before, or maybe I’ve just seen pictures. Right now, my memory isn’t working all that well. It feels as if I’m half-asleep, waiting for the details of my life to come into focus.

Suddenly, a figure steps into the shaft of light. I freeze. His back is to me, but there’s a spotlight on him, like an actor onstage. There is something recognizable in the way he carries himself: the breadth of his shoulders and the slant of his hips. As I scoot a little closer, the rock falls out of my shallow pocket and plunks onto the ground. A soft thud is loud in this hushed chamber of stone. The boy turns, glancing around.

When I see his face, my breath catches in my throat.

Kai.

The sight of him brings a memory into focus: the last time I saw him in person, three years ago. He looks exactly the same as he did then.

He stares in my direction, but his expression is utterly blank. Does he recognize me? Can he even see me in this darkness? Or is he looking past me, lost in thought? I stand, ducking my head to keep clear of the ceiling. I am about to call his name when he steps out of the light, vanishing as quickly as he had appeared.

I slip the rock back into my pocket, and then I follow him.



***



The last time Kai and I talked, it did not end well. I was angry with him about something. And he was upset with me too. He was so upset that he said he needed space and hung up the phone. Thinking about it now makes a rain cloud sit heavy in my chest. Why would I ever fight with Kai? He is so easygoing and gentle—he never argues with anyone. God, I must have done something terrible to actually make him angry. What did I do? How can I make it right?

I need to catch up to him so we can talk. Then I can explain, or maybe he can explain to me. And then I can apologize. And then things will be right between us again.



***



When I reach the shaft of light, I tilt my head back and gaze up. The light filters into the rock cavern through a round hole about the size of a dinner plate. Through the hole, I can glimpse clear blue sky. Wisps of cloud skitter past.

With a flash of recognition, I know exactly where I am.

The lava tubes.

Our place, mine and Kai’s.



***



Three years ago …

“Meet me tonight at the lava tubes,” Kai said. His brows were knitted together, his tone urgent. His fingers lightly touched my hip. “So we can, you know. Catch up.”

“I’m not sure,” I hedged, glancing up at my parents in the distance. They were distracted, gathering our snorkel gear and dumping our dirty towels into the laundry bin at the resort kiosk. Expecting me to be following right behind them. If I didn’t hurry, soon they would notice my absence and start bickering.

“I don’t even remember how to get there,” I said to Kai.

“Don’t worry, it’s simple—I bet you’ll remember as you go along. Follow the path along the edge of the golf course. You hit the parking lot, and the path turns to gravel and veers down to the lava tubes. You can’t miss it, really. I still go there all the time.”

All the time. His words made me flinch inside, which surprised me—I didn’t have a crush on Kai. But then why did I hate to imagine him bringing other girls there? Maybe because the lava tubes were special: the hideout we had discovered as kids, the place we had spent those magical summer hours dreaming, pretending we would run away together. Silly plans. Childish games. Still—it hurt to think of him there, without me. With someone else instead.

I turned away. “Look, it was great to run into you, but I should go … ”

“T, please.” He touched my shoulder, and I couldn’t help myself. I paused, turned back around to face him. “It’s our place,” he said. “Remember?”

Our place. The look in his eyes was so earnest.

“Fine,” I whispered. “I’ll see you there. Midnight.” Then I reluctantly pulled away, heading up the sandy hill to my waiting parents.



***


 

I’m not buried in some scary underground cave. I’m somewhere familiar and safe: the secret hideout of my childhood. As I gaze up at the bright-blue daytime sky through the round hole in the rock roof, memories come flooding back about a different sky I once glimpsed through that hole—night, star-studded.

Kai is here somewhere. I need to find him.

In the distance, a faint glimmer of sunlight marks the cave exit. I plunge toward it through the darkness, memories of that night swirling through my mind. Memories of the last time I was here, three years ago...

About the author

Dallas Woodburn has been honored with the Cypress & Pine Short Fiction Award, the international Glass Woman Prize, and four Pushcart Prize nominations. She hosts the podcast “Overflowing Bookshelves” and heads Write On! Books, an organization that empowers youth through reading & writing endeavors. view profile

Published on April 21, 2020

Published by Month9Books

80000 words

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by

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