Side Effects May Vary is a really well-written debut from Julie Murphy. I thought the writing was incredibly honest and emotionally raw, which made feeling what these characters were feeling real. That anger that Alice feels, the love Harvey can’t shed, all so raw. This was probably my favorite part of this book.
I found the characters a little harder to warm up to. They were complex and made mistakes, which made them real, even when I couldn’t really fall into like with them. But I don’t have to feel like I can be besties with them or feel like I want to totally make out with them to appreciate them.
Alice is an emotionally distant person, even before things in her life change. And after, she’s so angry. And Harvey is the opposite, giving his emotions over without a question. They both grow so much and get to understand one another better by the end, but it was a rough road getting there. There were times when I wanted to tell Alice off or try to make Harvey stand up to her earlier. I did like the parents in this book, even though they’re not in the forefront a lot. I was really intrigued by the glimpses of their lives, their problems, their history. We don’t really get into much of that, but I wanted to know more about them.
In short, Julie Murphy nailed it. Side Effects May Vary is complex and the writing is really great. I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Published by Balzer + Bray
Pub Date: March 18th 2014
Format: eARC | Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
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.