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Side Effects May VaryReview - Side Effects May Vary
by Julie Murphy
Harper Audio, 2014
Review by Christian Perring
Oct 28th 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 44)

Julie Murphy's emotionally overwrought debut young adult novel features Alice, who had leukemia and is now in remission.  The narrative shifts between the present, as she copes with living, and the past, when she was coping with dying. The other narrator is Harvey, the boy who was closest to Alice through her illness. They were childhood friends and are very close, but once she escapes her cancer, she rejects him.  Much of the story is about how she is able to face her feelings for him, after rejecting him several times. He has had a demanding childhood, playing piano for his ballet-instructor mother in her studio, for much of his life.  He fell in love with her when he was 13. They opened their hearts to each other, in a silent way, while she was going through cancer treatment and then when she accepted that it was not working. There are many serious themes here, including love, sex, death, infidelity, betrayal, and the meaning of life.  It is a novel full of hopes and dashed dreams, exploding emotions and carefully planned revenge.  It shows that both life and death are complicated and people are scared of their own emotions. The writing is energetic, and reflects the realities of teens who do ballet and play classical piano.  The unabridged audiobook is performed by Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne, and they sound appropriately passionate and solemn. 

© 2014 Christian Perring

 

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


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