Published by HarperCollins on 2014-03-18
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Literary Lushes
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
I received an ARC from the fabulous ladies at On the Same Page (formerly Literary Lushes) in exchange for an honest review.
When I first started reading this book, I couldn’t help but think what an interesting approach and concept to this type of situation. It’s written with alternate POVs, but it’s also written in the Then and Now. So one thing I will say is to pay close attention to the chapter headers so you know what is happening. I didn’t at first and got a little confused, but quickly caught myself up and found myself enjoying that take on the characters lives. I believe the Then and Now concept really allowed the reader to get to know Harvey and Alice in the before and the after.
Also, I’ve heard some compare Side Effects May Vary to The Fault in Our Stars and I will quickly say, don’t. This however, isn’t a bad thing. Yes, they have cancer in common, but in no way are they entirely similar. I found myself struggling to sympathize with the main character, Alice. She came across as very unlikeable and ungrateful. My view on Alice did change as the story went on, just like her view on life changed as the story progressed.
Side Effects May Vary provides the reader with an entirely different perspective to cancer and the patient going through it. That is a beautiful yet ugly and heart wrenching journey in and of itself, but even more so when the main character is so stubborn and difficult throughout. She doesn’t realize what she has until it’s almost entirely gone. That is true with a lot of things. Sometimes it takes something bad happening or something miraculous to happen for us to realize just how great we actually have it.
Plus, there is Harvey. I really enjoyed his character, but also felt sorry for him and wanted nothing more than for him to move on. Once you read, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that. I hated how he allowed Alice to treat him, but praise him for holding on as long as he did. It just goes to show how loyal of a friend he is to Alice. Their whole relationship had that love/hate thing going on, but it also allowed for the characters to truly develop in front of the readers eyes. At the end, I felt proud of Alice and the growth she showed towards the end. She was able to gain better control of her life and be more appreciative.
And the ending, oh my heart!
You’ll have to read it to see what I mean.
4 out of 5 stars.