The youngest dancer in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory, Cason Martin is one of the best ballerinas in the country. Her very first memories are of ballet, and she’s well on her way to a successful career on the stage. But when a strain in her leg turns into her worst nightmare, she knows she may never perform again. While Cason is learning to give up control of her life, Davis Channing—a cancer survivor and recovering drug addict—is regaining control of his by volunteering in the oncology department that saved him once before. As the two teens get to know each other at the hospital, they discover that, together, they may just be brave enough to reinvent their dreams.
Kati Garnder’s debut novel, Brave Enough, is in many ways a frothy, fun teenage romance, but the author—a childhood cancer survivor and amputee herself—tackles tough subjects with a masterful nuance that is both candid and compassionate. The emotions Gardner’s characters experience as they swing through hope and grief and back again feel raw, real and deserved, and each is well developed and complex. Whether they can always see it or not, Gardner has made sure Cason, Davis and their friends are much more than their afflictions.
Though the plot is somewhat predictable, Gardner’s strong storytelling skills and her knack for dealing with subject matter that is so often relegated to hushed whispers make her debut novel a powerful one.