Another reading list treasure! And my library had it. Seriously a great thing, what with interlibrary loan still not being entirely functional. (I’ve gotten one book via interlibrary loan since it kind-of-sort-of went back to normal, but I’ve heard the librarians say that not all libraries are participating in it yet, plus book quarantine recently extended to seven days due to the fact that they’re learning that items like board books and graphic novels carry the virus longer, according to a librarian friend, and if they stack the books, apparently the virus lives on the surface longer, so I’m not going nuts with my requests.) Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Simon Pulse, 2019) popped up on a list and sounded amazing to me, and onto the TBR it went. Fortunately, it didn’t have to spend too much time there. 😉
The story begins just before Sophie donates a kidney to her lifelong best friend Peter. Peter’s been sick all his life; Sophie, who’s been in love with him for years, knows that this sacrifice she’s making will mean a more normal life for him, and will bind the two of them together forever. It’s harder than she thought; the pain is intense and lingers long after her incision heals, but Peter’s able to return to public school for the first time in years and Sophie is thrilled that he’s actually able to live.
But life post-transplant is a little different than both of them expected. Life has always been Sophie-and-Peter; now that Peter’s healthier, the two of them have to figure out who they are on their own. Peter’s growing and changing and exploring his options, and Sophie…may have to push herself a little. Or a lot. And her feelings for Peter haven’t changed, but the fact that she gave him an entire organ has complicated things massively. Nothing ever stays the same, and this will be a year of extreme change for Sophie and Peter.
My goodness. This is a lovely, emotional, heartfelt book. Peter’s been suffering from kidney disease since he was young; an earlier transplant failed and dialysis keeps him alive. Sophie knows that donating a kidney to him will help him live a healthier life, but she also knows it’ll tie the two of them together forever, something that appeals to her deeply because of how in love with Peter she is. Peter, who once had a crush on Sophie in middle school, has figured out that he’s bisexual. The new kidney he received from Sophie is giving him a freedom he’s never known before, and he’s feeling a little guilty that he’s exploring so many new things and leaving Sophie behind. The kidney donation, while tying them together, has also complicated their friendship massively.
Ms. Solomon has masterfully woven an emotional account of a friendship that’s entangled by health problems, love, and codependency. Sophie and Peter both nearly leap off the page and you’ll be sighing with sadness and cringing as they make some painful decisions. Peter’s history of kidney disease affects every part of his life and Ms. Solomon affords him dignity while never shying away from the more difficult realities of what his life has been and may be in the future. Even with Sophie’s donor kidney, his future is far from certain, and the reality of this pervades the book (and was like a punch straight to the heart when I read it) and affects everything. Sophie has a little bit of maturing to do, but she’s spent her whole life giving in to what Peter wants, and it’s hard watching her struggle with Peter growing and not needing her as much.
Our Year of Maybe is a bit of a tearjerker for so many reasons. The intricacies of Peter and Sophie’s friendship will yank hard at your heartstrings, but it’s still an easy read that doesn’t necessarily make you work too hard (and I know focusing is an issue for a lot of people right now). It’s a story that will stick with you long after you turn the last page. I haven’t read Ms. Solomon’s other books, but I have You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone on my TBR, and I’m entirely ready to sob buckets over that one.