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Quotable RA: Sometimes it is among the dying that we remember to live

This post originally appeared at Book Brats.

I got dressed for church and I walked to the car all without putting the book down. As he drove, I sat in the passenger seat reading. Two little girls sat in the back seat but they were used to this. As we pulled into the parking lot I closed the book and sobbed. It’s hard to explain to a 3-year-old how a book can be so beautiful, so moving that it makes you cry and that is a GOOD THING.

The book? If I Stay by Gayle Forman. It was not the first and it was not the last, but I am not a book weeper so the tears are a testament to the beauty of it. Many a friend has asked me why I like to read books about dying teens, why teens come in and ask for “tearjerkers” and a book that will “make me cry.” You see sometimes it is among the dying that we remember to live. We forget in our day to day lives that each day is a gift. It’s so easy to get caught up in who is saying what, who is wearing what, and whether or not you are going to make it to destination A on type because darn it we have to leave RIGHT NOW. We forget to tell the people in our lives that we love them. We forget to put our cell phones down and look them in the eyes and really allow ourselves to discover who they are. We forget to make moments. I read books about dying people because they help me to remember to do all of those things. And because they are often beautifully written and I am not going to lie, I love words and the way you can
string them together and make the perfect sentence that resonates in a heart and reminds us to live, to truly and honestly live.
Today I share with you quotes from my top 5 dying teens novel. I share them with you because they have the power to open our eyes and remind us to truly live. Sometimes we learn to live among the dying.

The Sky is Everywhere
“Life’s a freaking mess. In fact, I’m going to tell Sarah we need to start a new philosophical movement: messessentialism instead of existentialism: For those who revel in the essential mess that is life. Because Gram’s right, there’s not one truth ever, just a bunch of stories, all going on at once, in our heads, in our hearts, all getting in the way of each other. It’s all a beautiful calamitous mess. It’s like the day Mr. James took us into the woods and cried triumphantly, “That’s it! That’s it!” to the dizzying cacophony of soloing instruments trying to make music together. That is it.” – The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (4 out of 5 tears)

The Sky is Everywhere from

“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn’t go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”
– The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

“Love, in the universal sense, is unconditional acceptance. In the individual sense, the one-on-one sense, try this: we can say we love each other if my life is better because you’re in it and your life is better because I’m in it. The intensity of the love is weighted by how much better.” – Deadline by Chris Crutcher (4 out of 5 tears)

“Like I said before, Rudy says, it’s all about differences. Something about humans really doesn’t like them, when they are the very thing we should embrace. If someone’s different from you and it scares you or makes you mad, that’s God telling you to take a closer look. If you’re scared or mad, that’s about you, not about the person who scares or angers you.” – Deadline by Chris Crutcher

“You put yourself out there in the truest way you can and hope others do the same. You’ll connect or you won’t, but you did what you could. It’s like playing ball in some way. There are guys on the team, like Cody, I’d give my life for. But you have to be willing to lay down your life for all of them if you want to put the best you on the field. Every guy on that field has to believe you’ll bring nothing back off the field with you.” – Deadline by Chris Crutcher

If I Stay
“I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman (5 out of 5 tears)
“And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman

“And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.” – If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Fault in Our Stars
“Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,” I said.
“Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (5 out of 5 tears)

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”    – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“That’s what I believe. I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it- or my observation of it- is temporary?” – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

If You Come Softly
“Time comes to us softly, slowly. It sits beside us for a while. Then, long before we are ready, it moves on.” – If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (4 out of 5 tears)

“I think only once in your life do you find someone that you say, “Hey, this is the person I want to spend the rest of my time on this earth with.” And if you miss it, or walk away from it, or even maybe, blink – it’s gone.” – If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Sometimes, you have to let the words of a book speak for themselves.  This post is part of our quotable RA series where we do RA by sharing our favorite book quotes.  For more Quotable RA see Quotable RA: Stop Bullying. Period.


  1. You MUST add Before I Die
    It's a beautiful, delicate book where the author is dying and living as she writes. A must read for teens and adults. And I cried the entire time.

    Broken soup was also a great read for grief (What an odd sentence!)

  2. You must read Before I Die by Jenny Downham. Beautiful delicate funny book written in first person by dying teen age girl. Cried through out and went back and cried some more.

    A great book on grieving:Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine. Warning: You feel these characters.

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