Tag: Realistic FIction

A Story About Cancer (With a Happy Ending)

A Story About Cancer (With a Happy Ending)
Author: India Desjardins
Illustrator: Marianne Ferrer
Translator: Solange Ouellet
Published: January 29, 2019
96 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 2, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

I think about everything I’ll miss if they tell me I’m going to die . . . my mom, my dad, my sister, cookies, TV shows I’ll never get to see the end of, walking outside when it’s really nice, the smell of fall, the starry sky on a full moon, my grandparents, my grandpa’s lasagna, kissing Victor, Victor’s eyes, Victor’s voice, Victor’s smell, Victor’s hands . . . Victor.

A teenage girl heads towards the hospital waiting room where the doctors are going to tell her how much time she’s got to live. As she walks, she thinks about her journey up to this point . . . the terrible decor in the hospital, wearing a headscarf, the horrible treatments, but also being with her friends, family, and her new boyfriend Victor. This is a story about cancer with a happy ending. It’s about life, love, and especially, hope.

Jessica’s Review:

Our unnamed female narrator is 15 and has been on her leukemia journey for five years. She tells us her story first hand of growing up and dealing with cancer, from losing a friend to the disease, to even falling in love for the first time.  This is another story with the **spoiler alert*  in the title, but that was actually what brought me to want to read A Story About Cancer.  

This graphic novel comes off more as a children’s book with the watercolor type illustrations and simplistic dialog, yet I was entranced in the story and even though I knew it would have a happy ending, I was intensely reading it. The book gives us the variety of emotions and experiences that a child and her family goes through as she is becoming a teenager and  faces this journey.  The illustrations are perfect for the story and help to complete it. 

I would say the best age group for this graphic novel would be preteens.  The story and words don’t talk down to a reader of that age and help one understand what goes on with someone dealing with cancer.  And yes, there is a happy ending.

There is a real life story behind the novel, which is mentioned at the end and makes the book even more wonderful. I applaud the author, illustrator, and translator for working to give us this story about cancer, but with a happy ending! 

I received a copy from the publisher Frances Lincoln Children’s Books via Amazon Vine.  Many thanks for allowing me to read and review it! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Jackpot by Nic Stone

Jackpot
Author: Nic Stone
Published: October 15, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 28-June 5, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?

Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money–both too little and too much–and how you make your own luck in the world.

Jessica’s Review:

I am a Nic Stone fan, and a big influence has to do that we are both from not only the same home state of Georgia, but the same home county: I love how she mentions her former high school: Norcross High School. I went to a different high school than her, but still it is really amazing to hear the familiarity of things you know so well!  (This also happened to me when I listened to the audio book of Dear Martin– OMG, Stone Mountain Park was mentioned: I worked my high school and college summers there!!!)

Ok, enough of the fangirling, now to get on to the review of Jackpot.

Jackpot is a story that portrays class, privilege, and diversity. After being at school during the day, Rico works her evenings at a convenience store to help her family to be able to pay the bills.  It is Christmas Eve and Rico sells a few lottery tickets, and she later finds out the store she works at sold THE winning ticket!  Rico recognizes a few numbers and believes the older woman she saw on Christmas Eve is the winner and may not know it as no one has claimed the winning ticket (the woman mentioned memory problems). Rico sets out to find this mystery woman with the help of a popular classmate who is also of the ‘rich’ class.  Together Rico and Zan set out on a long term adventure and maybe discover a little bit of romance.

I listened to the audiobook version and LOVED it.  Stone narrates Jackpot herself and put all of herself into the narration.  She gives Rico the attitude that she wanted portrayed.  I also really enjoyed the side narrations of inanimate objects that add to the story/journey that Rico and Zan go on. 

Stone realistically shows how some families truly do live paycheck to paycheck and how even one event could happen and cause financial disaster to a family. I was not a fan of Rico’s mom whose pride was too much to even get any form of assistance for her family.  I get that you may not want to be on assistance and fend for yourself, but when it comes to the detriment of your family (mom has money issues and Rico handles it all) and even the fact that your child has to help the family make rent each month. Let alone living in an area you can’t afford!   School should be Rico’s priority, not helping to take care of her mom and little brother. There is a huge difference between getting assistance when needed and taking advantage of the system. 

I really enjoyed the journey Rico and Zan went on and did not know where the story was going for the conclusion, but I should have seen it coming!  I loved the ending.

I will definitely be reading more by Nic Stone! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Trapped by Michael Northrop

Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop
Published: February 1, 2011
232 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 2-6, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . .

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . . .

Jessica’s Review:

Trapped is a short and quick read that I enjoyed until it abruptly ended.  Were the last few chapters accidentally left out of my copy?  Nope, that was it!  Who lives, who dies, and what’s going to happen next?  I will have to decide that on my own…

I was pulled in from the beginning wondering what was going to happen.  I knew it was going to be a bad storm, but the snow just would not stop!   These poor kids just kept getting worse off as the novel progressed.  For a YA novel that has boys and girls stuck alone together, there surprisingly was not much teenage drama: They were focused on survival. 

If you like quick YA reads, give Trapped a try. Our narrator is a boy, which is a rarity in YA novels.  *Disclaimer*:  Going in keep in mind that the novel ends with no conclusion/ epilogue.

Northrop wrote another novel which interests me called Surrounded by Sharks.   It is similar to Trapped in that it deals with survival, but I doubt I will read it.  It is about the same length as Trapped and I am afraid that there will be no conclusion, and my thinking is this:

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

If you have actually read Surrounded by Sharks, I would love to know if there is a conclusion to that novel!

Other than the lack of conclusion, Trapped would be perfect to read while it is snowing: I just hope you don’t end up in a blizzard like our poor teens!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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