Mark knows grief. Ever since the accident that killed his twin sister, Grace, the only time he feels at peace is when he visits the bridge on which she died. Comfort is fleeting, but it’s almost within reach when he’s standing on the wrong side of the suicide bars. Almost.
Grace’s best friend, Hanna, says she understands what he’s going through. But she doesn’t. She can’t. It’s not just the enormity of his loss. As her twin, Mark should have known Grace as well as he knows himself. Yet when he reads her journal, it’s as if he didn’t know her at all.
As a way to remember Grace, Hanna convinces Mark to complete Grace’s bucket list from her journal. Mark’s sadness, anger, and his growing feelings for Hannah threaten to overwhelm him. But Mark can’t back out. He made a promise to honor Grace—and it’s his one chance to set things right.
I admit that what initially pulled me to this novel was the protagonist, Mark. He’s a Filipino and it’s rare for me to read western books that have my culture as a big part of the story. I truly sought this one out and expected a lot. And although I encountered misses here and there and to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t really that of a major drive as I thought (we tend amplify things when it comes to our culture, let’s put it that way), it was really just about guy who was coping with his loss.
Normally, I’m one to say that book like this is dime a dozen. But I’m giving it a free pass this time. Yes, the theme was hardly unique, even though Mark’s Asian it doesn’t made it all different. We all experience loss and we all cope when that happens. And while we handle it differently, we all deal with it anyways. But what made this terribly sad was that Mark had played part on why his twin sister was gone. So I can understand why he was detached most of the time. The guilt and the burden, it was eating him alive. But when he read his sister’s journal, he found out Grace’s insecurities— things that she didn’t show, didn’t tell to them. And with that even she was gone, he still learned more about her. And in the process actually helped him.
When it comes to this kind of story, the sincere transition of moving on is important to me. It was hard at the beginning, yes, as I said Mark’s situation made it more difficult. But I’m glad, together with his sister’s friend that he was taking some steps, minor as it was but at least he did. The one triggering moment for me was when he was shoved again in the situation he well knew. Of course, he didn’t want that to happen (again) but for me, it helped sorted himself out. It was one final nudge, one that really necessary at that time.
In the end, I forgot what Mark Santos was. I now knew who Mark Santos is. Like I said it was story of him being in this situation and moving past from that. What I really like that every time he remembers his sister it wasn’t only about how he had lost her (and how it consumed him) it’s now about how she will be if she was there. They finally did her bucket list, things she wanted to do or as Mark said what they all needed to do. And honestly, I think they all needed that.
Preview Quote: “Grace thought I didn’t ever fear anything, but that’s not true. I just hide it better than most. But today isn’t about Grace. Today is about me choosing life.” — Mark