Cancer books. Man, they are all over the place these days, aren't they. It seems as though you can't peruse any shelf of any book store without finding at bunch of cancer books. YA is littered with cancer books. Now don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily mind, it's just that a lot of these books are about the exact same thing: dying kid dealing with Feelings. There are few variations in these stories.
Okay, I'm coming across as insensitive. I'm not trying to, it's just that when you read as much as I do it's difficult to not get bored when fictional characters die of cancer, especially when very few authors try to bring something new to the this particular table. I feel as though many authors who write about this subject are hardly trying anymore. Cancer, death, that's the stuff that rips out your guts and reduces you to a pathetic heap on the floor—who wouldnt cry, amirite? So, yeah, I often avoid these books because I know it's going to be so Tragic, rife with emotional porn, and it's like I've already read each YA cancer book—many a time—I've already cried for each poor kid that didn't get to grow up. So, yeah, even though it's sad it also is boring. And manipulative.
All that said, Somebody Up there Hates You is a breath of fresh air. Sure, Richie, our unfortunate protagonist is dying of cancer, in a hospice no less, but he doesn't spend a lot of time feeling sorry for himself. It seems as though, even though Richie doesn't say as much—quite the opposite actually—that he's at peace with his much-too-early demise. like he's just waiting for his time to come, raising a little hell in the meantime. He plays an inappropriate prank, swears at people, sneaks out of hospice, gets drunk, gets a little high, hooks up, hooks up again (with someone else), gets punched (a lot), and maybe even discovers he has a heart (I'm not telling).
And sure, Richie makes a bunch of mistakes, causes quite a bit of trouble, but you know what else he does? He spends a lot of time worrying about others, not himself. He worries about his mother, about how she's dealing with everything, about her health. He starts to understand how everyone has some sort of tragedy to deal with in their lives—not just kids dying of cancer but everyone. He does a whole lot of growing up during his last few weeks in hospice.
No, this book didn't make me cry, didn't even get teary-eyed, but perhaps that is what I love most about it. This book doesn't force you to that breaking point where all you want to do is donate all your money to Saint Jude's and all your hair to Locks of Love while you bawl your eyes out. Rather, SUTHY
paints a picture and invites you to to gaze upon it, to think about it and to come to your own conclusions. And not once have I felt like a soulless baby-eating monster for not crying over this book.
Sure, I've got a few minor bones to pick with SUTHY—it was sort of difficult to get into at first—but I appreciate it nonetheless. 4 stars.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.