New novel tackles love and incurable diseases

How does one love another that they can never touch? 

This is the heartbreaking question at the root of Rachael Lippincott’s YA novel “Five Feet Apart,” based on the screenplay by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Laconis. 

Lippincott was born in Philadelphia and graduated with a BA in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh. One of the producers for the upcoming film, set to debut March 15, asked Lippincott to write a young adult novel based on the script.

 “Five Feet Apart” circles around two teenagers, Will and Stella, who both have cystic fibrosis. The two meet while in the hospital receiving treatments, and even with a scary amount of sarcasm and control freak issues in play, a romance begins to spark. Nevertheless, it is an important rule that CF patients remain six feet apart from each other at all times to prevent cross-contamination, so while the couple remains physically apart they grow closer emotionally. 

Will and Stella bond as they make a deal to do their treatments together per Stella’s wish, and in return Stella will let Will draw her. Throughout the story they begin to converse more during their treatments and it eventually becomes a continuous cycle. The couple also begin to leave notes for each other and ultimately take risky measures to get closer physically. 

While some critics may say the novel is another “Fault in Our Stars” wannabe, this story essentially shines light with a different perspective on a disease that isn’t given enough attention.

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disease that causes continual lung infections and limits the capability to breathe over time. Throughout the story, the reader gets an idea of what a person with CF goes through day by day.

During the novel the characters talk about their daily routine of required medications as well as physical therapy treatments. The reader will find that Stella is very consistent on when she takes her medications and when it is time for her to use “the vest.” 

Although “Five Feet Apart” is considered a love story, most of the focus seems to be on the disease itself. Little attention is given to how each character handles the disease. 

I would recommend this novel to any John Green or Gayle Forman fans, as Lippincott delivers a captivating, emotional and well-plotted story that you will surely enjoy. 

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