Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means has been characterized as The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park. I disagree. The novel stands on its own for originality and storytelling. Lane, Schneider’s protagonist, has just entered Latham House, a sanitorium for tuberculosis patients. A modern day tuberculosis outbreak has led authorities to segregate those who test positive until a cure can be developed. Lane’s life, to this point, has been regimented and predictable. He’s an overachiever with Stanford admission staring him in the face. He does everything today’s aspiring collegiate should do – he takes as many AP and honors classes as possible; he starts a club to make himself appear different and to add to his resume; and he does not take risks. Latham House, ironically, changes him. Being thrown into the sanitorium, a sort of summer camp with an open-ended release date, completely throws him off, until he discovers Sadie, someone he once awkwardly encountered at summer camp when both were thirteen. Lane wants nothing more than to break into Sadie’s clique because it seems to take on its predicament with a rather good outlook. Sadie wants nothing more than to avoid Lane. And there the conflict begins.
Yes, this is a love story, but it’s also a thoroughly-researched story and presents tuberculosis in a realistic manner. Before becoming an author, Schneider completed an graduate degree in bioethics. Extraordinary means also goes the extra mile and addresses the real potential for bigotry, violence, and prejudice towards those with medical conditions. Robyn Schneider hooked me with The Beginning of Everything and cemented my appreciation with Extraordinary Means, one of the best books of 2014.