Tuesday, September 04, 2007
In one of those moments where I just wasn't really in the mood to read what was sitting on the "to be read" shelf, I went out to the stacks (god, being a librarian is awesome) and took a gander at the new teen shelf. I liked how short Amy Goldman Koss' Side Effects is. I hadn't read any reviews, but recognized the author and knew that other books she's written have been well-received. But what really (sadly?) drew me in was the cover. Clearly a girl, if a little punk or masculine, but defiant and triumphant all at the same time. It reminded me a little of the air that surrounds Cecil Castellucci's characters. At least in my head. And I really wanted to get to know this girl.
It'd been a bit since I read it, so I sat down to rekindle the memory and before I knew it, Koss had captivated me again with Izzy's voice, and I'd read nearly half the book. We meet Izzy as she starts a typical day, goes to school, day dreams about the school hottie, gives her mom a hard time, and gets out early for a doctor's appointment. A few hours later, she's rushed to the Children's Hospital with a cancer diagnosis. The world around her gets a bit hazy with Izzy's bewilderment at the sudden change in the world order. But here's where Koss shines - Izzy remains the same girl we met complaining about her mother on the first page. She gets tired and angry, but even when she can't come up with a scathing quip because her brain is mush, she still doesn't let those around her get away with anything.
Izzy is awesome. She's strong and sarcastic and has a dry sense of humor. Basically, she's right up my alley. Example:
"'How was school?'
She perked up. 'Really?'
'It sucked, Mom. It always sucks.'
'Please don't use that word'
Mom sighed" p11.
Koss is succinct; there's nothing extraneous in her text, and she manages to create a swath of memorable characters in less than 150 pages. Anyway, it's a fantastic and quick read.
Definitely for fans of Castellucci. And you could try to wean your readers off Lurlene McDaniel with it. If that's your thing. But then, our girl lives (this is not a spoiler), so perhaps it's more for fans of No More Dead Dogs. heh.