Author(s): A. J. Betts
A moving story about love and hope found in the most unexpected of places
Mia’s not your typical hospital patient. Her next-door neighbor, Zac, can hear her fighting with her mom and the nurses through their shared wall and he wishes she’d get over herself. But soon they are trading messages that evolve into a bond neither sees coming.
Apart from illness, they have little in common: she’s a gorgeous girl with an entourage of perfect friends and he’s a soccer-playing farm boy. In the real world, these two seventeen-year-olds would have little to say to each other, but in the hospital the usual rules no longer apply.
By the time Zac is discharged, Mia is gone too, and he wonders about her. Is she okay? Is she better? He can’t find out. She’s left Facebook and won’t answer his texts. Until the night he hears a tap at his window.
Told in alternating perspectives, Zac and Mia tracks the relationship of two ordinary teenagers in exceptional circumstances. They’re both in remission, but cancer has changed everything, and normal isn’t normal anymore. This is a funny and tender novel about hope, love and courage.
** Teaching Notes tailored to the Australian Curriculum for English available for download at textpublishing.com.au/resources
awardWinner, NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature, 2014
awardWinner, Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards, ANZ, 2014
awardWinner, The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, 2012
awardShortlisted, Queensland Literary Awards, Griffith University Young Adult Book Award, 2014
awardShortlisted, West Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards, 2015
awardLonglisted, Gold Inky Award, 2014
awardShortlisted, Dioraphte Prize, Netherlands, 2015
awardShortlisted, Buxtehuder Bulle Award, Germany, 2014
'Zac and Mia are unforgettable-they put hooks into my heart that are still there. Be warned: if you pick up this book, you won't want to put it down.' -- Fiona Wood 'Warm and uplifting.' Weekend Australian 'There is a great sense of warmth and humour in this story, which will appeal to both YA and adult readers...A stand-out novel for 2013.' Australian Books and Publishing 'Above average in this burgeoning subgenre; it's the healing powers of friendship, love and family that make this funny-yet-philosophical tale of brutal teen illness stand out.' Kirkus 'Betts portrays cancer as hard, scary, and isolating, but beatable-or at least bearable-if one isn't facing it alone, and her depiction of a boy trying to hold onto normal life and a girl realizing she can't keep hers from changing has power.' Publishers Weekly 'Zac & Mia holds its own as a smart, well-crafted story about the importance of friendship and feeling understood.' starred review School Library Journal 'I think you have to be brave to write a book like this. To write it without overt, condescending sympathy. And to be brave enough to write the moments that are funny, or grotty, or filled with rage, alongside those that are brave and heroic. It's a book that is well deserving of a prize, and is likely to win many more.' -- First Impressions (Bec Kavanagh) 'For communicating the day-to-day mundane madness of cancer, Betts deserves high praise...Another triumph for the Text Prize, A. J. Betts is in good company and Zac and Mia is another great read.' -- ALPHA Reader (Danielle Binks) '[Zac & Mia] is an outstanding novel about the stuff of life that really matters. There will be laughter, there will be tears, some of which will be for the truly amazing Zac and Mia and all their real life counterparts. Most of all there will be joy. You will not want to put this book down once you start to read it.' -- The Hoopla 'Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts is a beautifully written story from dual perspectives...A warm-hearted story and two unforgettable characters.' Hypable 'I found Zac & Mia to be a compelling story with characters that I truly cared about by the end of the novel...confronting and heartbreaking at times, but it is also comforting and moving, a beautifully written portrait of our basic human need to connect. It's a story that I'm glad I had the opportunity to read and one that I'm sure will linger with me for some time.' Kids Book Review 'The strength of Betts novel is how well she gets inside her character's head...her characters felt real -- her dialogue is spot-on, the supporting characters truly shine in their own ways, and Zac and Mia's perspectives ring unique and true. Everything feels raw and real, completely grounded.' Inkcrush 'The writing was close to perfect. A. J. Betts effortlessly created a story, while daringly similar to John Green's, still equally fascinating and touching.' YA Midnight Reads 'If you are after a book filled with hope and heart I recommend Zac & Mia.' Obsession with Books 'A.J.Betts has painted Zac and Mia with strong colours. I was drawn into their lives. I felt their anger, injustice and pain. I empathised with both families. I admired the courage, the honesty and the sense of hope. But I also laughed at the humour and cheered for the successes. These two characters will stay in my heart.' -- Buzz Words 'Funny, graceful and full of heart. You can whip through it in a day or two and it feels like you've lived a whole life.' -- Brooke Davis Australian Women's Weekly 'Zac and Mia is billed as a young adult title, but this old adult read AJ Bett's debut novel in one sitting.' -- Clare Wright, Best Books of the Year Weekend Australian
A.J. Betts is an author, teacher, speaker and cyclist. Zac & Mia, the winner of the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing, is her third novel for young adults. Her others are ShutterSpeed and Wavelength. She lives in Perth, and writes when she's not pedalling.