As if it doesn't suck enough to have cancer, practically every time you pick up books or see movies where characters get sick, you know they'll be dead by the last scene. In reality, kids get all kinds of cancers, go through unspeakable torture and painful treatments, but walk away fine in the end. From the acclaimed author ofThe Girls and Poison Ivy, Side Effects is about the pain, fear, and unlikely comedy of 15-year-old Izzy's journey, told in her own powerful and authentic voice. It is Izzy's story--screams and all.
At once acerbic and warm-hearted, Koss's (The Girls) novel offers a first-person account of a 14-year-old's grueling ordeal after she is diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma. In an introductory note, the author remarks that many "kids get all kinds of cancers, go through unspeakable torture and painful treatments, but walk away fine in the end." Though Koss lets readers know in advance that Izzy will pull through, the teen's candid, often comical narrative will involve them deeply in her adjustment to the drastic changes that come with her illness and treatment. Often sarcastic and glib, Izzy, diagnosed in the first chapter, delves into the details of her chemotherapy and its devastating side effects, including hair loss, mouth sores, rashes and shooting arm pain. ("Was it necessary that I have every possible side effect from chemotherapy? Couldn't I just skip a few?" she wonders.) When Izzy returns to school, she uses humor to cope with her peers' awkward, over-friendly attitude toward her, commenting that there was "something spooky and science-fictiony" about "all this smiling and nodding and helloing." Koss interjects many poignant moments, including Izzy's dread of continuing her "chemo nightmare." The teen's thoroughly likable and uplifting best friend plays an enormous role in helping Izzy to remain positive and avoid self-pity. This tale will certainly open readers' eyes to the tribulations of young cancer patients and how to offer support. Ages 11-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Roaring Brook Press
September 30, 2006
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