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Side Effects May Vary


Side Effects May Vary

  • Alice
  • 16 years old
  • Best friend is Harvey
  • Ex-ballerina
  • Harvey is an ex-piano-player
  • Diagnosed with leukemia
  • Alice has mom and dad
  • Harvey has mom, never knew dad
  • Harvey is in love with Alice
  • Harvey uses friend’s sister to make Alice jealous
  • Alice has dated other boys before
  • Alice has an on-and-off relationship with Harvey
  • Alice makes a bucket list
  • Harvey helps her complete the list, but doesn’t know what’s on it
  • Alice goes into remission after bucket list is complete  

Sixteen-year-old Alice, a former ballerina, is friends with Harvey, a former piano-player at the ballet studio where Alice used to dance. When Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her world turns upside down. Alice’s hair falls out, she is skinnier than ever before and she has constant headaches and dizzy spells. Alice feels it’s too soon for her to die; she hasn’t lived up to her full potential. In order to cope with the disease, Alice creates a “bucket list” of crazy things to accomplish. She enlists the help of Harvey, who has had a crush on Alice since the day he met her and would do anything for her. Alice and Harvey go on a bucket list adventure. They humiliate Alice’s ex-boyfriend, find the perfect dress, and trespass into an old amusement park, all in the year that Alice has left to live. The two develop a strong bond as they go on the adventures, and Alice and Harvey alike are terrified to lose it.

The author’s descriptive imagery makes you feel like you’re in the book, standing next to Alice and Harvey on their latest expedition.

The book is set in a present-day rural area. The author’s descriptive imagery makes you feel like you’re in the book, standing next to Alice and Harvey on their latest expedition. From the classroom to the beach, the author covers a wide array of scenery and delivers it perfectly. The words are woven into a beautiful story that sticks in your head for quite a while.

Although this book is amazing, the layout of this book is very confusing. It switches between Alice’s and Harvey’s points of view, and also between the current time and the past time. This writing style gives away lots of spoilers, which can ruin a book’s element of surprise. Although you already know some big aspects of the book, it is interesting to see how they occurred and in what ways they play out. This book does keep you guessing at Alice’s thought process and what decisions she’ll make.

Overall, this book was very good. The storyline was fantastic. A lot of people can relate to many of the characters in this book; there’s a character in there for everyone! It is very interesting to read the point of view of someone with leukemia.

Reviewed by Katie N, Teen Board Member on March 25, 2014

Side Effects May Vary
by Julie Murphy

  • Publication Date: March 18, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 14+, Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  • ISBN-10: 006224535X
  • ISBN-13: 9780062245359