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Ageless Friendship   Leave a comment

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot: A Novel: Cronin, Marianne:  9780063017504: Books

The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin is about the sustaining and enduring power of friendship. Lenni is the 17-year-old narrator hospitalized with “life-limiting” cancer –  usually referred to as terminal. She meets 83-year-old Margot and an immediate bond is formed. Between them is a 100-year-old life.

Lenni’s acerbic, insightful humor is beyond her age. This isn’t a criticism; it makes sense given her situation. She’s a no-nonsense teen who doesn’t get to live the life of a healthy teenager. She still manages to sling attitude, though. Yet, she makes the most of her situation: she’s curious, so she meets with the hospital chaplain; she creative, so she has the idea to collaborate with Margot to share their life stories through art. Each painting is associated with a particular and significant situation, which they reveal to each other. The result, besides bringing them closer, is a compelling narrative rich with life’s joys and sorrows.

Lenni’s parents never visit, which is eventually explained. Whether intentional or not, Lenni creates her own family within the hospital. Father Arthur, New Nurse , Paul the Porter, the Temp and Pippa the art teacher are those with whom she has meaningful relationships.

Cronin’s characters are vividly portrayed. The novel is both heartwarming and heart wrenching. After all, the word terminal is stated on page one. The friendship with Margot transcends age. Although Lenni will never have Margot’s experiences, she’s able to appreciate what life does offer, and everyone is enriched by knowing Lenni.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot                                                                                Four+ Bookmarks                                                          HarperCollins, 2021                                                                            326 pages, plus Reading Group Guide and Author Interview                                                                         

Stopping is Not the Same as an Ending   2 comments


Hazel, the insightful narrator of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, is a 17-year-old who’s fought cancer most of her life. While talking about another book, she could just as easily be talking about this one: “But it’s not a cancer book, because cancer books suck.” Green has written much more than that, and it comes nowhere close to sucking.

This is about living with the knowledge of death’s inevitability loitering closer than it does for most, especially the young. Hazel meets Augustus at a cancer survivor’s support group. Eyes meeting across a semi-circle of young adults in varying degrees of bad health may not sound romantic, yet it’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship between two young adults who teeter alarmingly near to death’s grasp.

Hazel is an endearing character: intelligent, witty and aware of what she has in life, versus what she might be missing. She does not want to be defined by her diagnosis. Although Augustus might be a little too good to be true, he is fun and expands Hazel’s world.

Through a shared passion for the book that is “not a cancer book,” which simply stops with no real ending, the pair find a way to look toward the future. They want to know what happens. Yes, this may be a metaphor for their lives, but it’s far less dismal than that.

A few plot twists help overshadow the novel’s predictability. The story’s beauty is based not on what’s lost, but is grounded on what’s gained.

The Fault in Our Stars
Four Bookmarks
Dutton Books, 2012
313 pages