Five Feet Apart

by Rachael Lippincott

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Five Feet Apart Characters

The main characters in Five Feet Apart are Stella Grant and Will Newman, Meredith Newman and Jeff and Erin Grant, and Dr. Hamid, Nurse Julie, and Nurse Barbara.

  • Stella Grant and Will Newman are teenagers with cystic fibrosis who fall in love during their stays in the same hospital. While Stella is cautious and rule-abiding, Will wants to live life fully rather than adhere to the rigid guidelines necessitated by their diagnosis.
  • Meredith Newman and Jeff and Erin Grant are Will’s and Stella’s respective parents.
  • Dr. Hamid, Nurse Julie, and Nurse Barbara are the medical professionals most involved in Will’s and Stella’s treatment.


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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Stella Grant 

Rachael Lippincott's Five Feet Apart revolves around two main characters, with the protagonist being Stella Grant. Stella is living with cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. Stella is a cautious, stringent rule-follower: she even designs an app to help her manage her medications. Her primary goal is to remain healthy and on top of her routine so she can receive a lung transplant. This promise of health and new beginnings motivates her to take her rules quite seriously. Stella is already familiar with loss, as her older sister, Abby, died prior to the events of the novel. She knows what that grief is like. Through her relationship with the second main character, Will, and particularly after the death of her friend Poe Ramirez, Stella begins to change her outlook. Stella begins adopting some of Will’s rebelliousness. She begins to play with the rules a bit too much and even falls through the ice when she and Will go skating together. Will is able to resuscitate her so she remains healthy for her operation. Eventually, she undergoes a successful lung transplant, and Will asks that she live her life fully rather than continue to watch his decline. The novel’s ending, however, provides a spark of hope that the two will resume their relationship.

Will Newman

Unlike Stella, Will’s cystic fibrosis is the type that will return after a transplant. It is essentially terminal. Since Will’s illness cannot be treated fully, he adopts the mentality that a full life is much better than a prolonged one. He hopes that when he turns eighteen, he will be able to cease treatment and live the rest of his (presumably short) life outside of the hospital. Will likes to bend the rules, trying to make the best and most of his short life. He encourages Stella to loosen some of her strict rules so that both of them might make the most of their togetherness. When Stella receives her transplant, Will decides that he would rather have her live a life without him than slowly watch him die. There is hope, though, that the two have reconnected several months after Stella’s transplant.

Meredith Newman

Will’s mother, Meredith Newman, is a single parent who cares for her son during his hospital visits. She seems overbearing yet clearly cares deeply for her son.

Jeff and Erin Grant

As Will and Stella grow closer to one another during their hospital stays, other characters from their personal lives and shared hospital environment become integral parts of the novel.  Stella’s parents, Jeff and Erin Grant, demonstrate that Stella’s propensity for caution might be a hereditary trait. They are similarly cautious and worried about Stella—their one surviving child—because they still live with the pain and grief of losing of their oldest daughter, Abby.

Dr. Hamid, Nurse Julie, and Nurse Barbara

In the hospital setting, medical staff are featured as both major and minor characters. The three medical professionals who are most deeply entwined with the emotional lives and medical treatment of Stella and Will are Dr. Hamid, Nurse Julie, and Nurse Barbara. Throughout prolonged hospital stays, difficult courses of treatment, and the daily struggles of teenage life, these three characters provide a hopeful, helpful presence in the lives of Stella and Will, even when their prognoses are grim.

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