FFBC: SIde Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy - Review

Side Effects May Vary
by Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray
Release Date: March 18th 2014
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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.
“Julie Murphy weaves together a tender and funny tale of love, friendship, heartache, and redemption. SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY explodes with brutal honesty, brilliant wit, and unflinching heart.” (John Corey Whaley, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for WHERE THINGS COME BACK)

“Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a funny, heartfelt, honest look at the beauty and the risk of getting a second chance. An inspiring novel about all the things worth living for. I adored this debut!” (Siobhan Vivian, author of THE LIST)

“A funny and touching novel about a strong-willed heroine who finds facing death simple, but facing life heart-wrenchingly complicated. A real original.” (Jennifer Echols, author of GOING TOO FAR)

My Review: 

This has been one of those books that I have read mixed reviews about. There has been so much talk about Alice's character that I was worried about how I would feel about her. But after reading this book, I could see why everyone had the opinion they had of her, but in my opinion Alice was just perfectly flawed. 

I knew that this book was going to bring out some major emotions, and I had prepared myself for that. I like a good book that makes me cry. Having a good cry every now and then is very therapeutic and after having the long intense month of preparing for my nursing boards a good cry is exactly what I needed. And this an amazing 1st chapter, that frankly has you crying by the end of the first few pages. 

It is difficult enough to be a teenage girl in today's society. Frankly I don't know if I would even survive high school these days. But being a teenage girl who is fighting Leukemia, that is probably the hardest thing I can imagine. This book is told in 2 perspectives, Alice's and Harvey's. It had also is told in two time tables what I like to call Pre-Remission and Post- Remission. 

After months of intense chemotherapy sessions and watching her body deteriorating, Alice has accepted the fact that she is going to die. But being a teenage girl, who feels that she has been wronged by every aspect of her life, she wants to achieve a type of retribution and make those that have wronged her suffer before her passing. Yes, some of the things that she does is absolutely horrendous and even sickening. But what most reviewers did not understand was that Alice's actions were actually following a normal pattern of dealing with grief, which every person goes through and some get stuck in one phase longer than others. 

While Alice is dealing with and frankly losing her fight with Leukemia, she finds herself getting closer to with Harvey, a family friend who has been in love with her sine they were young. High school had drifted them apart and yes, Alice herself may have been also a reason to why they were no longer friends, but when she needed a support system Harvey was the first person she turned to. When she is living what might seem like her last days, Alice allows herself to open up and express how she truly feels for Harvey. This is a scary thing for anyone to do. Adult, teenager, sick or dying. But Alice feels like she is at the end of her life and has nothing left to lose so she opens up to Harvey. 

But the next day, Alice receives the 4 words any person bravely fighting cancer wants to hear: You are in Remission.  But Alice was not planning on beating her cancer, she had accepted her fate and was not planning for her future, because she didn't have one. At this point there was 1 line that absolutely blew me away. I had to read it several times, and I even shared this line with some of my friends outside the blogging community. And frankly I feel that this line sums up this entire story perfectly.

"I knew how to die. 
It was the living that scares me."

Now that Alice has a future to plan and to live, she is even more scared and makes some crazier decisions than she did Pre-Remission. But there is hope at the end of this tunnel. And towards the end of book Alice learns to accept the beautiful bright future in front of her and trys to right all of her wrongs. And the end was just heart-warming and touching and makes up for some of the harder scenes of this book. All in all this book was perfection. And I highly recommend it! 

Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie's debut novel.

Thank you to our beloved team & Julie Murphy for making this event possible.


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