I read Five Feet Apart to prepare for the film, not realizing this novel was written AFTER the screenplay. Thankfully, this actually expands upon the screenplay and adds much needed detail, extra emotion and nuance, and makes subtle changes. The story revolves around two teens, Stella and Will. They both have cystic fibrosis (CF), with Will having contracted a hardy bacteria called B. cepacia which makes him extremely risky to be around Stella. Nonetheless, they start developing feelings for one another. The question this novel poses is: can you fall in love someone when you can’t even touch them or be closer than six feet to them?
These topics are respectfully covered and provoke thought (and tears. Plenty of tears). They’re both well-rounded characters with flaws and positive qualities. The supporting characters add an extra beat to the already strong heart of the narrative, and everything is described so well that I felt like I was there with the patients and doctors. The ending is also nicely wrapped up while still leaving potential for a sequel.
My only little niggle about Five Feet Apart is the fact that it does rely on typical YA romance/tearjerker tropes, and can feel familiar if you’ve read other novels centered around the central concept. Still, that shouldn’t put you off reading this terrific gem that both makes you look at love in a new perspective and shines a light on CF.