In my other life, I am a pretty kick-ass school librarian, if I do say so myself. Hey, I work with middle school kids...that right there has to make me slightly insane and monumentally interesting. Obviously I am ALWAYS reading to stay current (I read somewhere in the neighborhood of 325-375 books/year). You can find out all about what I'm reading and recommending (not just for teens) on my library blog.
Today on my library blog I decided to post my personal "Top 5" books where cancer plays a starring role. And then I decided to copy the post here because I think that all 5 of these books do a great job of dealing with the illness but not making it "another book about cancer." Without further ado...
Because I'm starting radiation on Monday, I thought that I would use today's Friday 5 to recommend my Top 5 fiction books for teens where cancer plays a starring role. The upcoming 7 weeks (every day, 5 days/week) of radiation will end just about the one year anniversary of when treatments (chemo, surgeries, more surgeries, etc.) began. It has been a long hard road that you can read about on my cancer blog if you are interested. These are books that I read pre-cancer diagnosis, but still resonate with me for "ringing true" to what it feels like.
(1) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I shouldn't actually have to say anything about this book, because it is pretty hard to go anywhere without seeing this book, or it's awards, or hearing talk about the upcoming movie, or watching the author's many videos online. I have had a not-so-secret crush on John Green for ages, but I swear this did not influence how I felt about this book. It is simply AMAZING! And, as I always say, you cannot be my friend anymore if you do not read this book.
(2) After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. Another author that I am a huge fan of and read every book that he's ever written immediately upon publication (if not before). Jeff, 8th grader and cancer survivor, is such an authentic middle school voice. Of all these books, Jeff is the character I can relate to most. Humor and heartache and typical teen boy angst all rolled into one. Darn near perfect in my opinion.
(3) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. I promoted this book throughout 2012 in my webinars and seminars as the "funny man's" Fault in Our Stars. This is an excellent read, and the perfect story about trying to be the supportive friend of a cancer patient. And how, despite the best intentions, teen boys often screw it up. Love it!
(4) Drum, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick. See, I told you I loved this author. In this book, which was actually the first book about Jeff (see #2 above), we actually learn of Jeff's initial cancer diagnosis through the eyes of his older brother Steven. Such a terrific look at family, love, and how life goes on. Told, of course, with the author's perfect mix of humor and warmth.
(5) A Time For Dancing by Davida Hurwin. This is the book that I always went to when those teen girls wanted something to make them cry. You know who you are. (Now, of course, I can also recommend TFIOS also...see #1). This is such an amazing story of friendship in the face of adversity. It still resonates with me all these years later. And a shout-out to someone for updating the cover!