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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Extraordinary Means — Robyn Schneider

Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means is a beautiful story that reminds us why it’s important to take risks and enjoy life to the fullest. It was published in 2015 by Harper Collins, and is a stand alone contemporary.

Schneider introduces us to Lane, a seventeen year old who just started his senior year of high school only to find out that he has a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis — therefore he has to be quarantined. He is sent to a sanatorium called Latham House where others who have this strain are being studied and cared for. After Lane’s “have to be the best student everywhere” attitude is established, we are introduced to our second narrator — Sadie. She has been at Latham House since the middle of her sophomore year of high school, and tries to enjoy the life she has even though she has a terminal illness.

We are introduced to other characters, but the ones are close to the narrators are: Nick, Charlie, and Marina.

The perspectives on death and life impact the underlying message of “take risks in life”.

“We’re all dying. Some of us die for ninety years, and some of us die for nineteen…. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it” (96).

“…because the thing about being erased is that first you have to leave a mark” (169).

Lane points out how, “Everyone else seemed to treat Latham like a vacation” (73), but when he comments on Sadie’s crew, he says that, “They weren’t on vacation, they were off on an adventure” (76).

The perceived environment of Latham House sets up a look at how people interact with people, as well as how we view ourselves. Sadie and Lane unknowingly challenge one another on their view of self. Sadie’s Latham Lifestyle challenges Lane’s initial “have to keep up with the outside academic life” lifestyle.

Like Schneider’s novel The Beginning of Everything, this one is also packed with references, which adds to the enjoyable factor of this read.

“Colonel Mustard, in the dining hall, with a tray,” (41).

I highly recommend this novel. It pulls at your heart strings and makes you question how you are living your life — are you taking enough risks?

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