Title: Happy Birthday to Me
Author: Brian Rowe
Pages: Kindle; 175
Release Date: April 7, 2011
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Language
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good heartfelt storyline
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Seventeen-year-old Cameron Martin has a huge problem: he’s aging a whole year of his life with each passing day!
High school is hard enough; imagine rapidly aging from seventeen to seventy in a matter of weeks, with no logical explanation, and with prom, graduation, and the state championship basketball game all on the horizon. That’s what happens to Cameron, a popular pretty boy who's never had to face a day looking anything but perfect.
All Cameron wants to do is go back to normal, but no one, not even the best doctors, can diagnose his condition. When he finds love with a mysterious young woman, however, he realizes his only hope for survival might be with the one person who started his condition in the first place...
Every now and then I start a book in which I instantly loathe the main character. It doesn't mean that I'll feel that way through the whole story, and usually the author means it to be that way anyway, but it happens. Cameron? He fell into this category instantly. Pretty boy Cameron is the epitome of your high school jock. He's cocky. He uses other people however he sees fit. He doesn't really care about anyone very much, because he's much too self absorbed. Luckily, this is all necessary because it sets up a fascinating story in Happy Birthday to Me.
What comes next is a twisting and turning adventure into assessing self worth and recognizing the worth in others as well. As Cameron realizes that his life is shorter and shorter with each passing day, the reader gets to see his slow build into a real, feeling person. I loved this part of the story so much. At first Cameron fights it for all he's worth. He figures if he just looks good he'll feel good. However as the story progresses you really see Cameron grow into a person who realizes that the world isn't all about him. It was this portion of the story that really touched me. Rowe does a fantastic job of taking this character from an unlikable pain in the behind, to someone that you really appreciate by the end.
Hidden in the folds of this breakneck foray into adulthood are other themes as well. Cameron explores the facade of high school life. He realizes that friendship is a two way street. It's all the little things that come through in Cameron's story that really kept me reading. Rowe manages to address all the petty things that high school students have to deal with every day, and how to see past that seemingly unbreakable wall. Best part? He does it without being preachy, and is instead funny and sincere. Cameron's character does a 180 in this story, and it's a beautiful thing.
Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed this book! It took me two or three chapters to really get fully into Happy Birthday to Me, mostly because I initially wanted to slap Cameron, but once I was immersed I was hooked. I'll honestly say that Brian Rowe has done a fabulous job of sharing this coming of age story with us. Think of it as the Cliff Notes version of growing up!
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.