Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review: SIDE EFFECTS by Amy Goldman Koss


As my loyal readers, you know I am super passionate about Childhood Cancer! So, when Amy Goldman Koss, who is on my Facebook friends list, posted that she was looking for people to review her book I did the "Horshack thing," "OOoooo! OOOOOooooo! OOOooooo! ME! ME! ME!"

Now, I read the book in two days (yep, it's THAT good!) but it has taken me almost a month to get it here for my review! Thank you, Amy, for being so patient!

On page two of Side Effects, 14-year-old Isabelle complains of a swollen gland that won't give her a break and her mom makes a doctor's appointment. Isabelle was annoyed that the stupid gland just never went down after having the flu a few weeks ago. And that's where her story begins....

The "C" word! CANCER! Lymphoma to be exact.

Not only is CANCER every mother's worst nightmare, it is every teen's worst nightmare...especially when your mom turns into a bumbling idiot at the mention of the word.

"If the cancer didn't kill me, the ride to the hospital would. My mom's eyes were streaming tears and she was babbling in general."

Izzy was usually annoyed, she was a teenager, it's what she did best. Izzy's indignant personality rarely fades as she and her best friend Kay try to stay one step ahead of this roller coaster that may just kill her. But when you are running on foot down the steep track with CANCER-on-wheels barreling down behind you going ten times faster, it may just be easier to lay down and die than try to beat it.

Izzy makes her cancer diagnosis frightening, livable, somewhat doable, sometimes humorous, and oh so REAL! Who knew you could crush on someone, while he crushes back, all the while having poison pumped into your veins, romantic. NOT!

Having been virtually "in" the cancer world during my short stint as a Childhood Cancer Awareness Advocate through my blog its 4 the kids, I can say this book is a bright-side view of cancer but at the same time a painful peek into Izzy's world as she battles a monster bigger than she had ever imagined. While Izzy's story is real and raw, it is humorous but truthful.
Not only would a child with a recent diagnosis benefit from the TOUGH HOPE throughout Izzy's journey, this book is a PHENOMENAL resource for the friends and family of a teen with cancer. Izzy's thoughts relay what she wishes her mom would say, what she wishes her best friend knew, what she hoped the boy she liked would not say. Everyone could benefit from reading this book...maybe people would acknowledge little bald heads instead of look away. Izzy would kick you if you were so rude!

Goldman Koss did an amazing job of writing from inside the mind of her fictional Izzy. While I read I truly felt for her, wished I could clue her BFF in and hoped she would be OK. Izzy's thoughts are so vivid and the descriptions of her physical AND emotional side effects paint the painful picture of what cancer can do.

I thank Amy for this poignant book that reveals the truths I know cancer patients would love to have their loved ones, doctors, nurses and BFFS know as they run from that coaster car that's breathing down their necks!

Cancer is serious. It is horrific. 46 children are diagnosed with it EVERY school day! It's not a subject to make light of and Amy Goldman Koss gives this subject the respect and seriousness it deserves while twisting it with a bit of crass teenage wit.

Thanks Amy! I hope hospitals buy oodles and oodles of this book for their oncology floors!

No comments: