Top Shelf: ‘In 27 Days’

With Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth” making all kinds of traction this summer, its origin, a website called Wattpad, has come into the public eye. Wattpad allows users to publish their writing for free online. You follow other users who update their books like TV shows, often publishing a chapter every week or so. The site was popular around 2012-2015 and mainly used as a place for teenage girls to publish their fanfiction and original love stories. And while sometimes you could find a gem on there, a lot of it was, well, exactly the quality you’d think a 14-year-old’s One Direction fanfiction would be.

But those novels can rack up millions of reads. Many of them, “The Kissing Booth” included, have gotten picked up and published due to their popularity. One such book, and one of my favorites, is Alison Gervais’ “In 27 Days.”

The plot is one of those summaries you read on a book jacket and are instantly hooked by. High schooler Hadley Jamison is shocked by the news that her classmate, Archer Morales, committed suicide. She only knew him in passing and from a tiny crush she had on him freshman year, but that doesn’t stop his death from hitting her hard. She seeks closure at his funeral, but what she finds is Death himself.

Death, clad in combat boots and endlessly smoking cigarettes. A sarcastic badass in a leather jacket who is casually sitting on the steps of a church when Hadley meets him. Could there be a more perfect characterization of Death? He gives Hadley 27 days to go back in time to prevent Archer from killing himself. But how do you get close enough to a stranger, let alone to a stranger who wants absolutely nothing to do with you, in enough time to prevent them from killing themselves before it’s too late? This is the question Hadley is faced with, and the heart-wrenching journey she sets out on.

I think my favorite part about this book isn’t the spot-on characterization of high schoolers or how much I love Death’s character, but the character Havoc. Because as if Hadley’s quest wasn’t hard enough, it turns out Death isn’t the only one of his kind. As much as Death wants to save people who die before their time, Havoc wants everything to stay how it is, and sets out to kill Hadley before she can succeed in saving Archer.

I’ll be honest: this book isn’t the best-written piece of fiction I’ve ever read. You can tell a teenager wrote it. But the plot is so intriguing that I couldn’t put it down. You’ll fall in love with how endearing Archer’s character is and how much his family needs him, and find your heart breaking through every step of Hadley’s journey to save him.

But that’s just the thing. When it comes down to it, it isn’t Hadley’s responsibility to save Archer. He has to help himself, and that’s the lesson I’m so happy the novel portrayed. Love doesn’t just “fix” depression.

I had planned on reviewing this book even before I remembered that it’s Suicide Prevention Week, but “In 27 Days” ties in perfectly with this. It is a heart-wrenching story about how we never know what is happening in other people’s lives, and how small acts of compassion can make huge differences. If you have the time this semester for some light reading, I’d definitely recommend picking yourself up a copy. It’s a quick read, and it’s entirely worth it.

Rating: 4/5.


Courtney Gavitt is a Staff Writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at courtney.gavitt@uconn.edu.