Wednesday, April 4, 2012
HMH Children's Paperback, 2012
YA; Contemporary; Issues
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Somehow I had gotten the impression that this book had a paranormal aspect but instead it is contemporary without any trace of fantastical creatures. However it does have something greater: the power of hope in trying circumstances.
See main character Hayley Matthews wants her senior year to be something special, wants it to be something more. So she quits marching band and tries out for cheerleading, landing a coveted spot as one of twelve Varsity Cheerleaders. The grueling practices are manageable until Hayley finally has to acknowledge a bump on her leg. This bump is not any old bump. It is quickly revealed as cancer and soon Hayley's summer is derailed, sending her to a hospital hours away from her hometown. But she is determined to maintain her pep, something that she will definitely need as she begins her senior year.
There were a couple of fairly predictable moments such as the love relationships. Turns out the popular boy is kind of a jerk (which is forecast from the beginning) while the boy next door is pretty dang perfect-all very obvious and actually probably my least favorite aspect although said boy next door is cute ;) Additionally since the story is told via first-person narrator, the reader can surmise that the narrator will survive or else there would have to be a dramatic shift in tone.
As you might guess in a book about cancer, emotions run pretty high. While Hayley is determined to look on the bright side, her family is struggling financially with medical costs and her estranged sister has some secrets that are impacting the family's money health. Generally Hayley does not let cancer or outsiders' stares hold her back, proving herself to be an inspiration to many others and winning a place in my heart.
Especially poignant is the author's mother's note at the end revealing how much of the story is based on the author's actual experience and strengthening the mother-daughter bond shown in the book for me. I was already crying but this just added to the emotion. It also explained how the author was so familiar with all of the medical jargon used throughout the book. The language seemed very detailed and knowledgeable to me although admittedly I (thankfully) do not have much experience with cancer.
Overall: An emotional journey through a difficult period as navigated by a graceful inspiring young lady.
Cover: I love the bright optimistic yellow and the red cheerleading outfit that really capture the story contained within.