Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murhpy
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper TEEN
Rating: 5 Stars
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and gettthe meaning back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
The best way to describe the plot and heroine of Side Effects May Vary, is the anti-Fault In Our Stars.
There are no seemingly never-ending monologues about dying, the meaning of life, yada...yada. There is no get friendly with your Kleenex box and have a good cry time. There definitely no "I feel so sorry for you and your Cancer."
What is there...you ask?
Try...a kick ass heroine determined to live and die on her own terms. A no-holds-barred look at family dysfunction at its best via main character Alice and her mother. An honest look at the good and bad aspects of decisions made while facing a terminal illness. Lastly, an examination of what the life of one person, and the truths and secrets of said life effect that person and those around them.
Alice is a woman of action, and while you may spend most of the book hating her for what she does; you come to admire her moxie in the end.
Harvey is the constant in Alice's topsy-turvy world. Ever the knight in crappy Geo...to Alice's damsel in a blender; he is the ultimate "stand by your woman man".
While this book does deal with a serious subject; it does so with a humor, honesty, and realism that allows readers to experience both Alice and her supporting cast as the well rounded and brilliantly articulated characters that they are, rather than mere pawns in the hit or miss game of diagnosis, illness, and recovery.