I first met Ethan and Carter back in 2012 because that's when I read their original story 'Ethan Who Loved Carter' and while I wasn't writing reviews back then I gave it 5 stars so you can definitely take it for granted that I loved that book and I loved these two boys and now here we are 4 years later and I'm reading the YA version of their story and I still love it...all of it. The story, the characters...everything for me has withstood the test of time.
I'm not really sure that I can talk about one of these books without mentioning the other so I guess this is going to be more of a merged review.
Ethan and Carter are two amazing young men both of them unique and special in their own way but both of them also strong and brave. The type of person that would make me so proud if they were my child. Carter has Tourette's Syndrome and dealing with it's manifestations is a daily part of his life that often draws unwanted attention to him, so his goal is just to keep his head down, stay under the radar and avoid notice...that is until Ethan.
Ethan deals with an acquired brain injury (ABI) and just like people ABIs are unique to each individual. Before the event that caused Ethan's ABI he was a bright and talented young man with the promise and potential to light up the world and while his ABI may have altered how it happened, for me, Ethan was still that same young man. Ethan looks at things like the night sky and sees the music that lies between the stars and when he looks at Carter, he doesn't see ticks and uncontrolled movements he hears all the beautiful music that Carter brings to his world.
'Ethan Who Loved Carter' and the YA book 'Ethan' are the story of how these two young men find each other, fall in love and their struggle to show the world that being different means just that it doesn't mean better or worse, more or less. It just means not the same and hopefully we're all different because it's in the differences that we enrich the lives of those we love and offer something special to the world.
More than anything what makes a story good for me is when I can find a message in it, some kind of meaning, something that makes me stop and remember what's truly important to me. The message that both of these books left with me was a reminder of how important and wonderful it is to live in a place where being different is something to be celebrated and treasured. Whether that difference is something as simple as the color of someone's eyes, hair or skin, how or who they love or something more shouldn't matter because in some ways we're all fundamentally the same we want to belong, to be accepted and loved for who we are and no matter what our differences are we all deserve this.
'Ethan Who Loved Carter' and 'Ethan' aren't stories about a boy with Tourette's meeting and falling in love with a boy who has an ABI. They're stories about two boys finding that place where they are loved and accepted with the person who loves them not in spite of who they were but because of it.
Please don't assume this is a sunshine and rainbow story filled with happiness and fluff because it's not. These two young men face challenges and obstacles and they do it with the love and support of their families and each other. I laughed and cried while reading both stories and gave my heart and soul to Ethan and Carter from start to finish.
I would highly recommend either book to anyone wanting to read a well told, heartwarming story about beating the obstacles, finding love and embracing what makes each of us different. 'Ethan' is a wonderful YA appropriate version of 'Ethan Who Loved Carter' which is equally suited to the more mature reader. Both books offer essentially the same story but from a slightly different perspective...remember different...not better, not worse, not more, not less...just not the same.
An ARC of 'Ethan' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.