My to-read pile keeps growing and I have so much to do. But I just want to read ALL THE BOOKS! This week I read (well listened to an audiobook of) one really cool YA and started betareading a book for one of my writer friends. I probably would’ve gotten through more if I’d been reading instead of listening, but so life goes…
Written from the perspectives of both Harvey and Alice, in Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy weaves a compelling story of friendship, relationships and love, with a little bit of death thrown in for good measure; at least for a while.
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend Harvey, who’s loved her forever, to help with compiling a crazy just-dying-to-do bucket list, that’s as much about revenge as it is about redemption. But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission. Now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done and discover just what happens when we say our ‘final’ words, only to find that life isn’t through with us yet.
Sharp, witty and poignant – this is a book written for all ages.
I was intrigued by this novel just on the premise alone. But I have two good friends who are friends with Julie Murphy and raved about it, so obviously I had to bump it up my to-read list. And it did not disappoint. This story is tender and heart wrenching and cringe inducing and frustrating and lovely. Alice and Harvey are flawed and real. Their relationship is so big it can’t be controlled. It’s messy and painful yet still hopeful.
I had some trouble connecting with Alice and for most of the book didn’t really like her. And that’s not a bad thing! I think it is very smart to take a character who was dying from Leukemia and not have her be the tragic, wilting girl. There were times I wanted her to scale her attitude back a little just so I could understand her actions better (because I would be like Harvey and if I knew I was dying, I would spend it making sure the people I loved knew that I loved them instead of trying to take down those who had wronged me), but that’s not Alice. Alice is strong and defiant and takes no shit. Not from anyone. And that’s what makes her story so damn good.