A Story About Cancer (With a Happy Ending)
Author: India Desjardins
Illustrator: Marianne Ferrer
Translator: Solange Ouellet
Published: January 29, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 2, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
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.
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!
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Kim enjoyed it while it wasn’t really for me. But this is exactly why we like doing double reviews: Two readers with two very different feelings on a novel!
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Published: April 7, 2020
Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
I have really enjoyed every book that I’ve read by Hendrix. He speaks to the darkness in my soul and I just want to embrace it! The Book Club’s Guide is no different. My only real criticism is more personal than it is objective. I know that Hendrix loves a good metaphor and considering how literal and shallow I am, I’m actually pretty good at deciphering them. I honestly have no idea what his metaphor is in this book. I feel really stupid but it’s true. But I’m still pondering so maybe I’ll figure it out. But other than that, I couldn’t put this book down. I read through it very quickly. I felt Patricia’s frustration and anger and desperation come through from every page. I liked how Hendrix didn’t shy away from the more subtle problems that seem to plague the older male generations. They saw women as fragile creatures put on this earth to serve and nurture, not to think or significantly contribute. I personally hate to think that anyone would see me as incompetent or stupid, but I have my own sense of self to fall back on. I made very good grades in school, I have a college degree, I know I have a brain and a relatively high level of intelligence. I also have a husband who would never treat me like and idiot emotional female whose only job is to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Patricia doesn’t seem to have any of that so when even her friends turn on her … dang I felt bad!
This book was intensely written with some crazy parts that made me physically uncomfortable! It also put me in the mood to go back and read My Best Friend’s Exorcism and We Sold Our Souls all over again. This is definitely not a YA book so I’d say keep it away from the teens. But I’d absolutely recommend this book to all my reader friends. There’s something so relatable about an honest, Southern book club filled with true crime and romance novels. Throw in a vampire? Oh yeah, I do need more info on who exactly this vampire is. Where did he come from? How did he become a vampire? Who is he??? Well, I guess Hendrix will have to write another book!
Jessica’s Rating: 2.5 Stars
Dates Read: June 28- July 15, 2020
Format Read: Audiobook
This is a novel that just did not work for me. It is about a group of ladies in a book club which intrigued me and also takes place in the 1990s, so I was looking forward to seeing references to that. But I should have been leery as the book description mentions Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias and I am not really a fan of those types of films. I guess the whole typical/expected southern stereotype just doesn’t work for me.
Patricia’s book club reads all kinds of true crime novels, so her suspicions of newcomer James are a bit out there, but her expectations are proved true. This is a dark and gory novel which did not pick up for me until about 30% was left. That 30% was good, but if you are sensitive about your ears there is one part that was just painful for me to listen to in that last 30%: The author really did his job with his descriptions. I kept touching my ear as if I was in pain!
There are other themes touched on throughout the novel: classism, racism, sexism, but also the closeness of female friendship through a shared love of reading. Though it wasn’t for me, I predict that this would be a fun book to discuss at your monthly book club if you have one.
The Same Deep Water As You
Author: Chad Lutzke
Published: January 6, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Music, beer, skateboarding, and tragedy star in this coming-of-age lesson on love and lust and the line that divides them, as 19-year-old Jex experiences a life that meets River’s Edge and Kids with Dazed & Confused––a parentless indie yarn with the dark heart Lutzke is known for.
Ok let’s start with the missing star. It’s as simple as me not knowing anything about punk rock or heavy metal. I’m too sheltered so most of that just went right over my head! But aside from that, I really liked this book! The story was beautiful and the characters were real and emotional. I found myself tearing up several times while reading.
I liked how Lutzke seemed to both confirm and break stereotypes, depending on the character. Jex grew up. He embraced his individuality, yet he matured and tried to adapt to what he wanted his future to be. And I loved his working his way through the difference between love and lust! I would almost say that mature teens should read this book, but very mature. There are great lessons in this book and I can think of several people I know who would benefit from, or even just enjoy this book! Lutzke has a list of other books and I definitely want to read them!