Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

How I Heard About It:  While at a Donalyn Miller workshop here in the Twin Cities a few weeks back, this novel was on the table.  I thought it was a new Julie Murphy novel, but learned it actually came out before Dumplin.  I read that book a year or so back.  I recently downloaded this novel via my 3M Cloud Library.  I finished it earlier this morning and must say I'm a fan of Julie Murphy stories.  

What It Is About:  Alice and Harvey.  Harvey and Alice.  Then and Now.  Now and Then.  This story follows Alice and Harvey who have known each other since they were both little children.  They grew up as neighbors.  As they got in high school, they each took their own path, but Harvey always had a soft-spot for Alice.  While in high school, Alice is diagnosed with cancer and the outlook isn't good.  She "rekindles" her friendship with Harvey during her illness.  In some ways, she is just using him, but comes up with excuses as to why.  Harvey is thrilled to be friends with her again, and hopes for more.  Since Alice believes her life is coming to an end, she decides to make a "bucket list" of things she wants to accomplish before her time is up.  Harvey begins to help her which involves Alice's X-boyfriend and an X-friend.  Everyone is surprised to learn that Alice is in remission.  This throws Alice into a tailspin and leaves Harvey out in the cold.  They both try to figure out this new way of life and how each of them can fit into each other's lives.  

What I Thought Of It:  I enjoyed the story quite a bit.  I loved the format of the story being told from Alice and Harvey's point of view and from the "then" and the "now".  It worked perfectly for this book.  Alice wasn't always the nicest character so she wasn't always likable, but to me that was realistic.  Having death with cancer myself, I could relate to many of the thoughts and feelings she was experiencing.  Harvey was one of a kind and I so enjoyed him and would want him for a friend myself.  Not only was the story of Alice and her illness, and return, engaging; but many of the subplots were equally compelling.  The writing was easy to read and the story flowed from page to page.  I look forward to what Julie comes out with next.  

Who Should Read It:  The book should be in the hands of all high school readers.  It is a story that will find its way into the heart of young readers.  Male readers will root for Harvey and female readers will love, and hate, Alice.  Everything in the book is quite relatable.  Not only is it a great read for high schoolers, but adult readers as well.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

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