I am going to use for my cbr12bingo Reader’s Choice option for Nostalgia. And really this book could have been set when I was a teen (even if there are cell phones in this book). The tone of the story has that feeling of freedom most parents gave kids “back then.” That free-range parenting. The fact the parents are divorced has that feeling of this is a new thing and “just coming to light” in a more open and less “((whisper)) So and So just got divorced….(gaaaasp!)” feeling. The character is dealing with an illness (calling every teen book I read in the late 80’s and early 90’s that wasn’t a thriller). The only real difference outside of the cell phone is the sister is dating a black girl. While you saw gay characters, it was a bit less politically correct and a bit more subtly introduced to the story.
Now, onto the book review: I was the recipient of several eBooks recently. And the beautiful thing was, it was the easiest thing in the world to download them as I only had to opened email and basically Boom! There they were! I have had less than good luck with most of the eBooks I have tried to read and was feeling I was never doing them again until this batch.
And I was glad that Cursed by Karol Ruth Silverstein was not only an eBook but free as I would not have wanted to sacrifice a tree for it or paid for physically “nothing.” While the ending has a few pieces that saved a very bumpy and cliched beginning, there was nothing to it. Our main character Ricky is flat. She starts off as whiny and “Poor me! Why do I have this illness?” And while what she does and feels is believable, she was unsympathetic. She repeats herself; she gives her doctor and principal unflattering nicknames and reminds you of that every time she mentions them. She reminds you of how she likes to swear. “Jokes” are repeated (Dr. Dad is not a doctor-doctor, but a dentist). And she’s always reminding you how horrible her parents are towards her (they won’t let her have the latest new phone). This whine-fest gets old. Silverstein also seems to “drop things in” for “shock value” or to give information that could have been given less obviously.
However, there are three saving graces. Ricky’s transformation to accepting her illness is mostly believable. It feels like a natural progression. By the end of the book I started to like her somewhat. The second is I love the idea her public speaking teacher instills in her about the power of words; how they can be the first impression someone has of you. And how the right words can “surprise teachers” who do not expect you to pass their class; how the right words can tell your doctor “no not that treatment for me” and how what we do not say can be more important than what is said. There is a power to words that can draw people towards you or push them away. Words (in my words) are magic. And when you overuse a word (F-bomb anyone?) it loses the power. And finally, the third is an odd one. The illness Ricky has is not “flashy.” Therefore, we do not hear about it that often. Especially with teens. It is not “cool” therefore it does not get the attention it deserves. There is little funding given, therefore, little research done. This is mentioned (very obviously) with one of the characters Ricky finally befriends. This illness that Ricky has is a form of juvenile arthritis. Ricky goes through similar feelings, tests and journey that happen if a person has cancer or some other “well known” disease, but also has her own unique issues and stigmas. Seeing this is refreshing. I am truly sorry if you have cancer, but I’ve read that story. I have not read the story of a teen with arthritis. I am assuming much of what Ricky goes through are things the author herself had to unfortunately experience.
Oh, and there is a fourth thing that saved this book for me and made me use it as the title of this review. There is a gathering at the end of the book where a little girl tells Ricky, that she “needs pictures on her face.” Even this old grump thought that was adorable and would not have said no to her (but would have said no to the karaoke).
If you/the reader are okay with several F bombs, other language and several situations of bullying the 12 to 14 crowd is the age recommended. However, the tone is younger (despite the language and situations), and the older teen might not be as receptive to that.