In these stories, the kids are not all right. The kids are sick. A popular sub-genre of YA fiction, called "sick lit," depicts stories of kids battling grave, often life-threatening, illnesses.
Recently, "sick lit" has been making its way onto the big screen. Recently, two sickly teenage girls were twirled around by dashing romantic leads. Katie Price (Bella Thorne) in Midnight Sun is deathly allergic to sunlight; Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) of Everything Everything is too ill to leave the house. Love breaks them free.
Five Feet Apart, out March 15, is especially representative of the sub-genre's success both on and off the screen. The book and movie came out within months of each other. First time novelist Rachael Lippincott adapted the (now best-selling) novel from Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis's screenplay for the film, which stars Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse.
Sick lit has been criticized for "romanticizing" illness, and the trope of the dying girl redeeming a broken man is one that recurs throughout pop culture. However, when depicted with honesty and research, the genre also confronts the awful reality of illness. Children and teens get sick — but they're still living. For kids afflicted by illness or who know someone who's ill, these books may be comforting.