Thursday, July 17, 2008

I continue to be alive!

One of my pet peeves is when bloggers spend more time blogging about how they should be blogging than actually blogging, so I feel like a real jackhole to be here again telling you guys I AM SORRY for the lack of posting activity, and I really do read all your comments and emails asking for new posts. And they will come!

It's absolutely a good news for me/bad news for you scenario, to be perfectly honest. My actual book is flying along right now (over 52k, when did that happen?) and I've been doing a ton of research for book number three, and those books, while not as groundbreaking as anything our beloved Lurlene has written for us, generally always take priority.

Anyways, there's a Lurlene book on my bedside table now (that's absolutely true, too, you can ask my roommate Dawn Rochelle to verify this and I'm sure she would report good findings), so I'll be back in business as soon as I can be.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why was death so awesome?

Obviously none of us are here thinking there is quality lit in the Lurleneverse. That said, once upon a time, many of us would have said there was, or at least that we couldn't get enough of dying heroines and their dreams of white dresses.

So what is the appeal? Obviously there's quite a market for death-and-disease books in the YA genre, right? Lurlene's kind of got this market cornered, but it's not just her, and clearly kids want to read these. I would have read each and every one of these as a kid if I could have gotten my hands on them.

And let's see:
  • I myself never suffered from a serious illness.
  • No one in my immediate family suffered from a serious illness*.
  • None of my friends or romantic prospects suffered from a serious illness.
So clearly it's not about that. Also, while I wasn't a heathen or anything back then, I wasn't scoping out "inspirational" fiction, so it wasn't that either.

The always-fantastic Tiny Pants sent me some information about the book Loving with a Vengeance: Mass-produced Fantasies for Women by Tanya Modleski, who said the following about gothic novels for women:
On the other hand, [death] endows the woman with something like 'tragic hero' status: "What can a heroine do?" asks Joanna Russ in pointing out that men have taken all the active plots. She can die. And in dying, she does not have to depart from the passive feminine role, but only logically extend it. On the other hand, death can be a very powerful means of wreaking vengeance on others who do not properly 'appreciate' us, and it is in this form that the fantasy of death can be found in Harlequin Romances, which, with their happy endings, seem on the surface to have nothing in common with the tragic Clarissa plot.
Considering that in many ways, Lurlene's books follow the trajectory of a simple teen romance novel (and many are in addition to being disease books), is this what's going on? Girls can land a big plotline, but only by doing something super passive like DYING.

Anyway, I am really curious to hear why you guys think you used to be so fascinated with these books, or - if you weren't - why others were... AND STILL ARE.

*at the time of my reading these books

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The only thing that can hold back football is a bunch of tulips, or Don't Die, My Love

One of my friends and a surprise (to me) fan of this blog just had a baby! Well, his wife did, but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Anyways, since I know he is reading this, congrats to the happy family! Special note to new baby Alexander: please avoid the Lurleneverse at all costs.


Ever since I started this blog, you guys have been all OH MY GOD WHEN ARE YOU DOING DON'T DIE, MY LOVE (published 1995) IT IS THE MOST AMAZING BOOK EVERRRRR. I hadn't read it before, so I figured I'd get to it when I got to it. You guys kept coming back though and talking about tulips and love and death, and, okay, you had me. Then I discovered that, unlike ninety-eight percent of Lurlene books, it had its own Wikipedia entry. By now someone has made it a bit more normal, but thanks to the revision history, you guys, I reconstructed the entry as it once stood.

Please bear in mind I DID NOT REWRITE ANY OF THIS.
Don't Die, My Love is a 3rd person romance novel authored by Lurlene McDaniel.

Julie Ellis and Luke Muldenhower are deeply in love. From the sixth grade through high school, Luke and Julie had always been "mad in love" for one another. When Luke can't exorcise what he thinks is a minor virus, Julie persuades him to see a doctor. Luke's test results are alarming, but Julie believes the strength of their love will see them through anything. When Luke finds his way in heaven, he left Julie with a love that is being represented through tulips. With that, Julie knows that luke is waitng untill the end of her tommorows. Find out how Julie makes it through the rest of her life.


  • Julie Ellis, a romantic female teen who is very persevering.
  • Luke Muldenhower, an avid football player, courter of Julie and a physically unstable person. He has been madly in love with Julie since 13th grade.

Okay, obviously I couldn't just SIT WITH THIS and NOT SHARE. I sent the link to my beloved friend Stacey, who sent comments on the cover (I'll include those below) and a recap of the wiki entry! Stacey, your words were so beautiful I had to share them with the world.
I love how the synopsis is crazy but kind of normally written until then suddenly it just is not normally written at all.
  • Sixth graders in mad love!
  • If you asked me "Two characters are named Luke and Julie. Which one of them is going to die, Luke or Julie?" It would SO CLEARLY be Luke. I am not sure why. Names, again, Lurlene!
  • "exorcise." I get a feeling there is more going on with Luke than meets the eye.
  • I love how it sounds like they're married. Julie persuades him to see a doctor not, you know, his mom who still washes his underpants.
  • "When Luke finds his way in heaven, he left Julie with a love that is being represented through tulips." I'm not sure, I swear, that anything I ever read will feel the way it felt when I read this sentence.
  • I'd like to think that "When Luke finds his way in heaven" indicates that the book actually takes place in some other dimension that may or may not be heaven and then there's a scene where he's like "I thought the 7/11 was around here? Can you direct me to the 7/11?" and then he finds his way.
  • A "physically unstable person"??? Oh shit this story just got way scarier. Run, Julie!!!!
  • 13TH GRADE 13TH GRADE WHAAAAAT COULD IT MEAN. I love that as the kicker to this synopsis SO MUCH.
Stacey, thank you so much for all of this.

Oh, you guys probably want to see the REAL synopsis, don't you?:
Julie Ellis and Luke Muldenhower have always been school sweethearts. Now both are in high school and deeply in love. Luke, a talented football player, is almost certain to receive an athletic scholarship to a top college. And no matter what her parents say, wherever Luke goes, Julie intends to follow. When Luke can't shake what he thinks is a virus, Julie persuades him to see a doctor. Luke's test results are alarming, but Julie believes their love is stronger than anything. Can love survive, now and forever?
I don't know; CAN IT?

That forementioned cover?

There's nothing I can say that Stacey didn't already say better, so:
I remember this cover from stores! Also, the SUNKEN EYES. I am confused by this cover because, is he SUPPOSED to look sickly? Like the cap and everything? Only there's clearly hair up there and stuff so maybe he is just a wimpy looking dude? Sorry dude that's mean cuz you're gonna die. Also in the inset: are they on the moon??
Thank you again, Stacey. Please feel free to precap any books you'd like!

The book opens with Julie letting Luke into her house. They get all expositiony to let us know they haven't seen each other much because Luke is all busy on the football team, of which Julie's dad is the coach. The kids are all snuggly:
He pressed his forehead against hers and kissed the tip of her turned-up nose.
Um I have thought about this scene a lot, you guys, and I can't make it physically possible in my head, unless he has THE WORLD'S SHORTEST FACE and she has the world's LONGEST face.

The coach comes in because he's totes obsessed with his star player Luke. Oh noes, Luke thinks he has a flu that can't be shaked! Hey, let's sing!
Shake your flu!
Luke just can't shake his flu!
Shake your flu!
Luke just can't shake HIS FLU.
The coach is horrified that Luke and Julie are planning a romantic date:
Her father looked horrified. "Don't go spoiling my prize quarterback and making him soft, Julie-girl."
Uh, coach? Most girls aren't exactly out to make their guys soft IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

Obviously I hate the coach already! He makes some snarky comment about Julie throwing like a girl. If he said that to me I'd whip out a fucking ninja star and slice open his face, but they don't let me in the Lurleneverse for MANY OBVIOUS REASONS.
She knew her dad was teasing, but still his remark stung. She was her parents' only child. And a daughter at that.
OH MY GOD YOU GUYS "A DAUGHTER AT THAT" OH MY GOD. Yes, that's right, females are the inferior sex. Holy shit I'm pissed off, and I'm on page five!

Finally they escape the coach:
Once outside in the crisp November night, Luke took her in his arms and kissed her long and hard.
See, coach, he isn't getting soft at all!

They hang out with their friends Solena and Frank (does anyone in high school have a friend named Frank?) when Julie discovers a lump on Luke's neck. Ruh roh! He says it's only a swollen gland. (That's what she said!) Luke's all annoyed she's inquiring so much about his health. Luke, I sort of would be too. But I wouldn't handle it by saying:
"Are you going to hang out your shingle?" He held up an imaginary sign. "'Julie Ellis: Medicine Woman.'"

When Julie gets home, her guidance counselor mother is harassing her about filling out applications for college SOON because MY GOD SHE'S ALREADY A JUNIOR. WHAT THE HELLLLLLLLLLL. I knew some goddamned overachievers, trust me, but I don't know ANYONE who sent off applications their Junior year. Also do schools even consider you so early on?

Anyways, Julie has a dumbass college plan already. She knows Luke will get a bunch of football scholarship offers, so when she finds out from where, she'll just apply to those schools. Man, it's no wonder Julie's mom is concerned about Julie's future, but let's be real, you and me, Julie's mom, let's talk like pals: any of those schools accepting kids for early admission are NOT going to take your dumbass daughter.

So later that weekend Julie goes over to Luke's place and feels his glands. I'm not even kidding. They're still swollen, and she urges him to go to the doctor. They get in a big fight over this, because Luke's mom doesn't have the extra cash for doctor's visits. Julie says the coach will pay, and Luke says "It's my flu, you know", like, dude, way to be possessive about the dumbest thing ever. I've got only one thing to say about this:
Luke just can't shake HIS FLU!
When Julie tells the coach there was a fight, of course he blames her:
"Don't be hard on my man, Julie-girl. Luke's had a rough season. He doesn't need hassle from his girl."
Wait, don't be hard? I thought she wasn't supposed to let him get soft? I AM SO CONFUSED.

To apologize, Luke brings her a ton of flowers. Apparently Julie is SUPER INTO FLOWERS. Now, me, boys, am not a lady wooed by flowers. Flowers die, ya know. I mean, so do people and animals, but not so quickly (uhhh except in the Lurleneverse, good point). If you're going to give me something perishable make it some enchiladas or a six-pack of Newcastle. Anyways, Julie promises a kiss for every flower he gives her. Ugh, that sounds boring. What kind of plantlife means sex? Give her that next time, Luke.

A few days later, Julie's hanging out with Luke's mother, who is super awesome.
Julie thought Luke's mother was attractive, even if she was on the heavy side.
Nice, Julie, NICE.

So FINALLY Julie takes Luke to the doctor, where she introduces herself as "his, uh... friend". Um, what the fuck, Julie? It's not shameful to be his girlfriend! Well, obviously, it IS but not for whatever reason you're thinking. God, I hate you both. The doctor sends them straight to the hospital sixty miles away in Chicago. RUH ROH! Sounds bad, losers!

Obviously we all know what's going on: Luke's got the cancer! It's Hodgkin's Lymphoma! Somehow I suspect that the ninety-three percent cure rate quoted on Wiki will hold no power in the Lurleneverse.

Since it's... Christmas break or something?... Julie's been off school, so she's been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago with Luke's mom. How the hell much time does she get off for Christmas? Like, it's not even Christmas yet! Whatever, I'll stop applying logic here. She does go home to celebrate Christmas with her family:
[Her dress from the school holiday dance] reminded her of a simpler time, a throwback to days of unhurried sweetness when nothing was more pressing in her life than studying for a test.
Uh, Julie, you haven't been gone THAT LONG you freak! Also I doubt you ever studied too hard for a test, Miss My Future Matters Only So Much In That I Want To Go To College Wherever My Boyfriend Does.

Julie talks to Luke's mom about any other family who could possibly help out:
"Luke's uncle Steve knows what's going on, doesn't he?" Steve was Luke's father's only brother.

"Yes, but he's all the way out in Los Angeles. Except for phone calls and cards, there's nothing he can do. We haven't seen him for years. He's a bachelor with a job connected to the movie industry."
SPOILER ALERT but I totes expected from "bachelor" and "movie industry" that Steve had Teh Gay but apparently that wasn't code for anything but how selfish us jerks out here in L.A. are. To be fair I recently left the industry and hoooo boy are people nicer! JUST SAYING.

Julie hangs out with Solena, which is a nice opportunity for Lurlene to let us know just how accurately she depicts teenage conversation:
"Frank says that the guys on the team want to do something for Luke, but they don't know what," Solena said after the crowd momentarily cleared away from the table. "Some of the guys are weirded out about it. They think Luke hung the moon and they can't imagine him being sick that way."

"Then fire up your imagination--he really is."

"But cancer! It--it's so unfair!"
Once Luke's home from the hospital, the coach urges him to start working out. His first weight-lifting attempt is pretty sad:
"Man, I'm weak as a kitten."
Kittenish or not, Luke returns to school AND finishes up with chemo. Go Luke! Unfortunately, buddy, I've got a lot of book left, so things are NOT looking good for you. Obviously, for me either, at least you get to die while I'm stuck reading this. JUST SAYING.

Well, that was fast. Almost immediately, Luke goes in for a checkup, and he's got a mass in his chest. This time he won't do chemo, just radiation. All righty then! The doctor lets Luke know he might have some fertility issues later because apparently he's also got a mass in his groin! (That's what she said!) For the radiation treatments, the doctors have to put small tattoos on Luke (just tiny dots) so the technicians can line up the machines.
"Personally, if I got a tattoo, I'd have picked something more exciting--like a mermaid, or a heart."
A MERMAID OR A HEART? GodDAMN you're a badass, Luke. I mean, I have lyrics to showtunes permanently etched on my body, so I don't know why I think I have room to talk, but, geez. Way to be a badass, Luke, way to fucking be.

Solena reports to Julie that Luke's sickness has gotten Frank all paranoid:
"Every time he feels a bump or lump, or even if he has a headache, he gets squirrelly."
OMG seriously?

Also, if Frank's getting lots of lumps and bumps, maybe he SHOULD see a doctor!

While Luke's finishing up his radiation treatments, he's also being a total asshole to Julie. Dude, the hell? Doesn't every guy love a clingy virgin?? Obviously Luke's just got some ISSUES with all of the DYING and the TUMORS and the OMG GROIN CANCER STUFF. They make up OF COURSE, our stupid young non-lovers. And Luke's next scans are clear! GO LUKE!

But, um, Luke? I've still got a big chunk 'o book in front of me. JUST SAYING.

So Luke and Julie travel to L.A. to visit with Steve and his "significant other" Diedra. I am not being a punk; it is literally scare-quoted like that in the book. I guess only relations like wives and girlfriends get to be acknowledged, significant others (and probably partners) get scare quotes. Steve and Diedra are actually pretty cool, though they are stupid enough to want to get married while Luke and Julie are there and have them as their witnesses. Also they have really exciting lives, traveling a lot and working on films, but all they REALLY want is to settle down and have kids. I actually thought we were going to get a refreshing look at a non-traditional life partnership, but PSYCH! I'm like Charlie Brown running to kick the football of progress, and Lurlene/Lucy keeps yanking it away at the last minute.

Out in L.A., Luke asks Julie to promise to marry him someday. I guess that's called gettin' promised in the kinds of communities where people, ya know, get promised to each other. It seems stupid to me! Isn't that just being engaged? Like, "I promise when you ask me to marry me I'll say yes"? I don't get it. I guess it's for people who aren't old enough to really get engaged. Here's an idea! If you're too young to get married, maybe you're too young to make decisions about getting married!

Oh my freaking god. At the chapel, before the wedding, LUKE FUCKING PROPOSES TO JULIE. He gives her a silver and turquoise ring as "a promise ring", which isn't like the thing I just discussed, but A PROMISE TO BUY HER A REAL DIAMOND RING. Right, because engagement isn't real without a rock.

ARGH. I just don't understand! They're in fucking HIGH SCHOOL. I get that they're in love and all, and I don't diss that, seriously. There have been studies done that the love you feel for your high school sweetheart or whatever is no less real than the love you feel later on in life. The big difference is, obviously, when you're seventeen you have SO MUCH ahead of you that it's generally not a smart time to be picking, I dunno, LIFE PARTNERS.

I mean, is it just that they're "good" kids and won't do it before they're married? ARGH. Sex isn't mentioned in this book at all, and I really wish it was (I know, shut upppp) because I genuinely want to know if it's some physical urge making the kids want to shack up THE SOONER THE BETTER or if we're just supposed to think marriage is the most romantic thing any people in love can do, so OF COURSE our hero and heroine should do so.

School starts, and Luke's back on the football team, and doin' fiiiiiiine. Of course he is. There's a big game coming up, and both Luke's mom and Julie are too busy to go with him to the doctor visit right before. But he reports things went fine, so happiness ensues. Or whatever.

The tide turns at the big game though! Luke collapses, and has to be taken to the hospital. His bloodwork's all funky so he's admitted. It's now when he admits that he totes skipped that doctor's appointment. C'MON LUKE ARE YOU SERIOUS. He skipped it because he's been feeling like shit, and he KNEW he was sick. Um, I am not sure I follow your logic there, Luke.

He needs a bone marrow transplant (don't they all!) but attends school as much as he can. The new stadium is named after him, which is a kind of creepy honor WHEN HE'S STILL ALIVE. I guess someone high up in administration is aware they're in the Lurleneverse.

Luke gets sicker and sicker, and ends up back in the hospital. There, he and Julie agree they need to get married RIGHT NOW. WHAT THE HELL. We're not even supposed to think it's a bad idea, like when Cyd Charisse was gonna tie the knot with Shrimp! (To be fair I sort of hate Cyd Charisse and Shrimp too, though.) ARGH. Please die soon, Luke, do not let this stupid dream come to fruition.

Luke has to have surgery to remove a tumor in his lung. It's very risky because, uh, he's really sick. Also because this is the Lurleneverse. I wouldn't get my fucking tonsils taken out in the Lurleneverse. Everyone's there to rally around Luke, including the coach, Steve, and his "wife" Diedra.

NONSHOCK! Luke does NOT survive the surgery. OH NOES. At least Julie's not a widow! Though she IS still a virgin.

Julie is all shellshocked and walking numb through life. Her parents and friends are worried, but since her Luke is dead NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. But one day her father runs into the house and is all THERE IS SOMETHING I MUST SHOW YOU OH JULIE YOU JUST WON'T BELIEVE IT I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT and for some reason Julie, she of the shellshockedness and the numbness, goes with him. I GUESS THIS IS IMPORTANT TO THE PLOT.

So at the football stadium, in the middle of the field, someone has planted fucking tulips to spell out "I [Heart] U". Julie remembers that Luke promised to send a message from heaven, and she knows this is it. Actually, uh, Julie, tulips take awhile, so he probably did this awhile ago. AND HER FATHER TELLS HER AS MUCH HA! For once, coach, you and I are on the same page.

The coach won't even let the field be leveled until tulip season is over. Well, now I know! Football can be cast aside for frigging TULIPS FROM HEAVEN!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I am still alive!

In case you guys were afraid I was off examining funny bruises or catching a case of the comas, I have just been really busy with in-town family, my book, and this newfangled idea where I have a social life. I'll have a new post up for you guys soon.

If you're really bored in the meantime, feel free to purchase this DVD and recap it for me. Kisses!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Boring zzzzzzsong, or One Last Wish: Mourning Song

Let's turn our attention to one of the earlier books in the One Last Wish series, Mourning Song (published 1992). I totally read this one, and since I don't have any memories of it, I'm assuming even then I found it a little bit as boring as I did this time around. Oh my god, you guys, this was like Dawn Rochelle-level boring with even more BORING!

Here's the new/current cover:

Uhhhh why are the girls Photoshopped on top of each other, all... magically? It's creepy! I don't understand; if there isn't room to show both of them, maybe they don't need to be SO LARGE or maybe one could stand in front. Maybe this book is about the disease of invisibility? Or teleporting? Beam me up, Lurlene. STUPID COVER.

I can't find a picture of the edition I have, but it's boring so you guys will live, trust me. By the way, I have lived in my house for over a year and a half, and I still can't find the cable that connects my scanner to my computer. Maybe if I move again it'll show up! That said, you guys really aren't missing anything, believe you me.

Oh, so what's this one about? LET ME TELL YOU IT:
You don't know me, but I know about you.... I can't make you live longer, I can't stop you from hurting. But I can give you one wish, as someone did for me.

It's been months since Dani Vanoy's older sister Cassie has been diagnosed as having a brain tumor. And now the treatments aren't helping. Dani is furious that she is powerless to help her sister, and she can't even convince her mother to take the girls on the trip to Florida that Cassie has always longed for. Then Cassie receives an anonymous letter and check. Dani knows she can never make Cassie well, but against all odds she dares to make Cassie's dream come true.
Oh, yeah, rare, but in this book, our protag is not the dying girl. CRAZINESS. Can you guys cope? Let's hold onto each other and get through it TOGETHER.

So like the synopsis said, Dani's sister Cassie has a brain tumor and isn't getting better. In fact, she's dying, but their mom doesn't want her to know. WTF! Stupid parenting. By the way, because I haven't yet detailed enough of my childhood issues to you guys, I read enough books like this when I was little to sometimes wonder if I had a bad disease and my parents just weren't telling me. Considering I just had a normal amount of checkups and other doctor appointments, I'm not sure how I even though this was possible. Such was the depth of my illness fixation though. I guess I can thank Lurlene for this one too. Dear Lurlene, please provide me an address so I can forward you my therapy bills.

Also, Cassie's doctor is their mom's boyfriend from college (their policeman dad was killed in the line of duty when the girls were little), which, uh, is that really okay? They are totally OBVIOUSLY dating again. I don't think that's exactly ethical. New doctor!

The unethical doc tells them, in terms of treatment:
"At the very best, all we can do is retard the tumor's growth."
There's gotta be a better way to say that.

Cassie is all depressed because she missed her senior trip to Florida, being busy dying of a brain tumor and all. She is super into the ocean! She makes Dani watch some boring nature special on TV about loggerhead turtles. I can't mock because I'm always watching random educational programming on TV; isn't that the point of having cable? I mean, obviously, besides America's Next Top Model marathons?

At school Dani's all depressed, but gets cheered up by her hot friend Austin. I wish that had happened whenever I'd gotten depressed at school! I didn't even HAVE a hot friend Austin!

Back at the hospital, Cassie asks Dani if she wants to know a secret, and of course she does! Who among us can resist the allure of a good secret? Anyways, obviously you've seen the title of the book, so you should know the secret is the One Last Wish letter (you can go to this recap to read all of it). Cassie isn't sure yet what she wants to do with it.

Dani suggests to her mom that the three of them go to Florida because it's one of Cassie's dreams, and obviously Cassie doesn't have a lot of time left for fulfilling dreams. Wow, I bet you guys are really wondering what on earth that money's gonna get spent on! Her mom says no, that Cassie needs to stay in the hospital and get all the treatments she can. I can't necessarily say I'd disagree in her shoes; you'd probably feel like your kid would be the one to beat the odds (or get fondled by some magic angel).

Dani plots out a plan to take Cassie to Florida, and enlists Austin to help. Obviously they have to sneak Cassie out of the hospital to make this happen. I don't know how I feel about this. Like, yeah, Cassie is dying, and their mom is being really hard-headed about this, but, uh, if she'd come clean to Cassie about the fact that she's dying and then let Cassie make this choice, it would be best. Cassie getting taken from the hospital without any care on the way there and while there isn't exactly genius planning! Everyone in this book is pretty dumb, honestly. I know, you guys are shocked!

So they sneak Cassie out and begin the drive down. They have to do crazy stuff like drive by night and camp by day so that they won't get followed or whatever. I can't believe stuff like this happens in the book and yet it is still so mindnumbingly boring. Even when Austin finds out the police are looking for them, I'm not interested.

During the drive, obviously Dani and Austin have lots of time to talk. He admits that because he's a minister's son, kids can treat him differently, and he hates that.
"Is that why you wear your hair long?"

"Maybe. I'd get an earring, but Dad would croak."
Oh, Austin, you rebel you!

Finally the kids make it to Florida! Cassie is thrilled to see the ocean! Cassie is also thrilled to read in the paper that a loggerhead turtle release is going to happen there soon! Austin's all BORING but Dani lets him know this is Super! Important! to Cassie. Goddamn, these turtles are like the only VAGUELY interesting thing in the whole frigging book.

Cassie wants to have fun, so she takes Dani to a bridal boutique where they pretend Cassie is getting married and she's the maid of honor. Even though the salesperson offers Cassie an option of dress colors, she's all NO OF COURSE I WANT TO WEAR WHITE. Ugh ugh ugh! I think I need a new category for posts, you guys, with all this fucking white worship. Of course the girls look lovely, and it's SO SAD because OBVIOUSLY Cassie is going TO DIE and therefore NOT GET MARRIED which is OBVIOUSLY the most important thing a girl could ever do!

The salesperson is SO AWFUL. I know this was written just so we could all go OH IF ONLY YOU KNEW STUPID SALESLADY but OMG:
"I know just how you feel, my dear," [the salesperson] assured her. "It isn't easy losing a sister. But getting married is the natural order of things. People start new lives. It's inevitable."
Okay, besides the whole fact that NO IT IS NOT INEVITABLE PEOPLE OFTEN DON'T GET MARRIED IT IS NOT ACTUALLY REQUIRED BY LAW, what the hell is with this whole "LOSING A SISTER" business? I hate you, salesperson. Like, lots.

After this outing, Cassie reveals to Dani that she knows she's dying. Dani's all "HOW?" and Cassie is nice enough not to say something like "BECAUSE I'M NOT AN IDIOT YOU IDIOT." Ugh. I am so over all of you characters.

So Austin says it's time for Dani to call her mom, and like a good lady, Dani listens to the man and does so. Actually, it totally IS time, but, ugh. Her mom shows up WITH THE UNETHICAL DOCTOR though that's good because at least he can treat Cassie's growing pain. Everyone argues a bunch, but it all gets resolved OF COURSE.

The fam goes to Disney World, where Dani gets all freaked out by the fucking Haunted Mansion. I know Lurlene is trying to be all deep with thoughts of the afterlife and all but OH MY GOD THE FUCKING HAUNTED MANSION? If there's anything NOT scary, it's the Haunted Mansion. I've never visited it, you know, with a dying relative, but I'm pretty morbid AND easily frightened, and yet I have never had so much of an eerie thought there.

Cassie goes blind and is nearly paralyzed, so it's time for her to go to the hospital. Unethical doctor can't treat her, since he's out of state, but he can act as a consult. Dude, you should have left this case the second you started sleeping with the mom, that's all I'm saying. Whatever.

So of course Cassie dies, NONSHOCK! Dani persuades her mom to stay a little longer in Florida to watch the loggerhead turtles, for Cassie's sake. They do, and everyone lives happily ever after. As happily ever after as you can, after your family member just dies at a young age from a brain tumor!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grow up, good god, you're already SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD, or Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever

It is time to pick up where we left off with our ACTUALLY FAIRLY INTELLIGENT AND SEMI-REALISTIC heroines Melissa and Jory in the sequel to Too Young to Die, Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever (published 1989).

I sort of want to start this review with like ten disclaimers. Or maybe five. Okay, one.

For some reason, despite the bizarre sexual nature combined with the anti-sex nature and the creepy brother stuff and the thought that saying yes to sex means saying no to success and the idea that rich people can't parent, I REALLY LOVE THESE TWO BOOKS.

I am so sorry, you guys. I'm not proud. I have no explanation. It's just a fact. Basically I just wish someone else had written these books so we'd keep the basic plot but lose, ya know, the "morality" lessons.

So what's it about? Let me fill you in:
Jory Delaney has always had lots of money. But there's one thing she knows she cannot buy--and that's her best friend Melissa's life. Although Melissa's leukemia is in remission, it's hard for both girls to hold on to the possibility of a very bright future. When Melissa's health begins to deteriorate, Jory watches her friend's courageous battle and is overwhelmed by a sense of loss. Distanced from her parents, Jory grows closer to Melissa's mother and older brother, Michael, as they give each other untold strength in the face of tragedy. As she grapples with the unfairness of Melissa's imminent death, can Jory find a way to turn her anger into the hope and inspiration that Melissa wanted to leave behind?
Wow, thanks for spoiling about three-quarters of the book, marketing department!

Here is the book cover I grew up with:

Some observations: this book cover is sort of misleading. Secondly, Michael and Jory have some nice asses on them. Thirdly, Michael looks a bit like young Scott Baio. Jory sure wants Charles in charge of her, if you know what I'm sayin'.

The next edition of the book looks like this:

Uh, way to make everyone less attractive, marketing geniuses! Also I hate the creepy way the flowers are Photoshopped on top of them, especially on poor unattractive Jory. When was the last time she washed her hair? Gross.

The book opens with Jory and her mom fighting about the family vacation to Europe. Jory's mom, the bitch, wants her to go, while Jory wants to stay in town. Her mom's all I ALREADY LET YOU GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOL WITH "A BUNCH OF RIFFRAFF" THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS THIS. God, I wish these were the kinds of fights I had with my mom when I was seventeen! Gee, Mom, please don't make me go tour those castles!

Jory's mom is mad because she hasn't filled out any of her college applications yet, and it's already the June before her Senior year. Wait, does anyone fill them out that early who isn't going for early admission? I mean, I started out at a really shitty community college, but I know when I went back to real school that I applied sometime in the spring to start in the fall. I know my grad school deadline this year was February to start in September. So way to panic over nothing, Jory's mom. She hates that Jory's so aimless, especially with so much money at her disposal. Okay, Jory isn't exactly the most driven person in the world... BUT SHE'S SEVENTEEN. I had tons of dreams at seventeen but they were all pretty ill-advised and I turned out okay! I mean, I get that there's all sorts of weird pressures on you when you're facing your Senior year, but, man, you've got all the time in the world (unless you have leukemia OBVS). Poor Jory. I mean, I wouldn't have turned down that castle-touring trip, but I've got your back on everything else.

This is probably just how Lurlene thinks rich families behave. Like, I'm not saying there aren't different stresses when one has to be concerned with the community and status and the future of your child who has never had to do anything on her own up until now, but, ugh. This prejudice against the wealthy/upper-class is so lame, Lurlene, so tired and old and lame. Did some rich people, like, beat you up at some point? What started this? You seriously could use some therapy to deal with this.

Jory goes over to Melissa's, where there's a bunch of exposition about Melissa being a genius and on the Brain Bowl and all that jazz. Also there's a dude on the Brain Bowl named Lyle who often asks about Jory. I don't care but I guess I'm supposed to. Melissa also wants Jory to get serious about her future. Man, none of us, even the so-called serious ones, wanted anyone serious about their future the summer before Senior year! Mostly we just wondered who'd be dating who and how heinous our classes would be, and if open lunch was as awesome as it seemed. (It was.)

Michael comes into the room, of course, shirtless and hottttttt, chugging milk and eating powdered-sugar donuts. Ever since Flowers in the Attic there is nothing appealing about those donuts to me. He's bitching about "female chatter" and "little girls" and I am so over you, Michael, yet again. Sexism isn't cute, nor are breakfast items found in books about incest.

Jory takes Melissa to the clinic, and afterwards Melissa wants to go to this secluded place which is where Ric was all UR HAI-MEN LET ME RID U OF IT. Melissa tells Jory about this but says it wouldn't have been right for her. Jory says she's been slapping boys' hands away forever. For a so-called party girl, that's a little surprising. I guess even the feisty BFF can't slut it up in the Lurleneverse. ARGH.

The next morning our ladies get up early to help Michael with his hot air ballooning. Melissa's got it planned to let Jory go up with him for the first time, but of course Michael brings along a girlfriend and Jory's devastated. I know I should probably make fun of Jory for being so hung up on such a pointless case, but I've been there. I get it!

Jory wants to throw a party, and her mom will only let her if she promises to attend important events with the family. She agrees, even to letting her mom select appropriate dates for each. That sounds terrible; I'm not sure any party is worth that. Still, the party goes on, but Melissa's all mopey there, and Jory follows her away from the crowd. As they often do, they talk about sex:
Melissa turned her face toward Jory. Her eyes were dark hollows and her skin looked pale, ethereal. "God decided that you're going to be rich and famous."

"No kidding? And I just thought I had to figure out what to do over the rest of the school year." She smiled nervously and pushed her hair behind her ear. "What did He decide for you?"

A wry smile hovered on Melissa's lips. She leaned sideways and whispered from the corner of her mouth. "That I'll go to my grave a virgin."

Jory laughed at Melissa's sudden turn to humor. "Not if Tony Perez has anything to say about it, you won't."

Melissa sobered and pulled the luxurious length of hair over her shoulder and stroked it. "Last spring, when Ric asked me to go to bed with him, it was the funniest feeling. [Like when you climbed the ropes in gym class?] I mean, I wanted to. I really did. I wanted to know what it felt like. To be with a guy that way." Jory squirmed in the sand. She'd seen enough movies and read enough books to have wondered the same thing. [Wait, "squirmed"? What, is she all hot and bothered and sex-curious? WTF!] "But in the end, I decided I wanted more than to just satisfy my curiosity. I wanted to be in love."

[Wait, Melissa, that is a total lie. Actually you didn't think you could have sex AND achieve your goals! If that had been the reason you'd given Ric, I would have been ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ON YOUR SIDE.]

Bewildered, Jory still couldn't figure out where the conversation was leading. "I guess we all want to be in love before we try making love. I know I do."
Before they "try" making love? It's not really something you sample, Jory.

Unfortunately, Melissa is mopey for a reason: her leukemia has returned. Dammit! Not that we didn't all see that coming, not just from the synopsis, but from her best friend narrating.

Melissa is going to have a bone marrow transplant, since she's lucky to have a brother who is a good match. Finally, Michael is good for something!

Melissa goes into the hospital to prepare for the transplant, and Jory is totally falling apart, of course. Lyle calls her to see if she wants to go out, and she agrees because being home sucks. He reveals that his mother had cancer, and tries to give her some coping ideas. She isn't having any of it, and he's a bit pissed she agreed to go out with him when clearly she didn't want to. Well, you're the one who follows her around school and calls her, even though she's never expressed interest, Lyle, so maybe this is your fault too.

Jory waits at the hospital the day of the transplant, with Melissa and Michael's mom, who says she thinks of Jory as one of her own and is so grateful she's in Melissa's life. Aw! As much as I hate the tired clichés of Jory's rich parents, I do love that Jory has a real relationship within Melissa's family. Of course, the moment is ruined when Melissa's mom mentions she's glad Jory stopped wearing blue nail polish, and Jory chalks it up to one of her phases. ARGH. Why do you have to be so mature and grown-up at SEVENTEEN? Also blue is a completely acceptable nail polish color, one of only three colors I wear on my toes. And I am grown-up, dammit!

I know this is totally a tangent but egads this is another one of my pet peeves. There is not one acceptable grown-up way to dress, okay? Some of us might be thirty and still go to work in pigtails and sneakers and be totally completely one-hundred-percent respected, you know? Whatever, apparently in the Lurleneverse you have to be totes ambitious and in business-casual by seventeen, but the upside is that one can SAMPLE SEX. Man, that'd be good, right? People would have to try way more on technique if there was sampling involved, much like how once people started downloading albums from the internet artists had to make each track decent, not just the singles. It is EXACTLY THE SAME THING.

When the surgery's over, Ms. Austin goes to Melissa because Jory promises to look after Michael. While he's still passed out cold, SHE TOTALLY KISSES HIM OMG! Even I, queen of creepy, wouldn't do that. I swear. JORY OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU DID THAT EWWWW.

While Michael is recovering, Jory gives him a glossy photo book of hot air balloons. Of course Michael can't be grateful, noooo, he has to bitch that it must have cost "at least fifty dollars". SHUT UP MICHAEL OMG I HATE YOU. What a fucking asshole! You know what I say when people give me presents that maybe they spent too much on? "THANK YOU!"

Melissa has an infection, and needs blood, so Jory and Lyle organize a big-ass blood drive at the school. Of course it's a big success. Jory should totes get into event-planning or something, she'd rock at it. Not that I'm telling a seventeen-year-old to worry about her career, I'm just saying. As always, Lurlene is queen of capturing the way teenagers speak:
"You just want the chance to dunk the principal in the water tank at the baseball toss."

The boy grinned. "Hey, now that sounds like fun."
Hey, now, don't it?

They collect a lot of money (and blood), thanks in no small part to a big-ass check signed by Jory's mother. Jory confronts her about this, since she generally acts as if she doesn't give a shit about Melissa, and she says she can't imagine what the family's going through, and she's so glad it isn't Jory. Jory says she's glad it isn't her too. Aw, man, this is sort of a nice scene, the kind that makes me still sort of like this book. Whatever, I said it.

Lyle invites Jory to a party, and she goes with him and probably would have had fun if he hadn't brought up the fact that Melissa is dying. Jory's all NO SHE'S NOT SHE'S JUST HAVING TROUBLE WITH THE CURE and, oh man, this is kind of tough reading. Of course they get in a fight and Jory storms off. You guys, guess who she runs into? DRUNKEN MICHAEL!

Okay, this book is really sort of awesome.

Drunken Michael's friend asks Jory to take his keys and take him home, so of course she does. For some reason, of all places, Jory takes Michael to the place where Ric asked to make Melissa's hymen a thing of the past. Lovely! They talk about Melissa, and start making out. Michael stops himself, because:
"If this had happened to Melissa and I found out about it, I would have gone after the guy with my bare hands."
Oh SHUT UP MICHAEL! If your sister had wanted to do some guy, more power to her! You don't get to beat up people for having sex! God, I hate you. Jory, I still think you're awesome, though. Don't worry.

Melissa starts doing better! YAY! That's the good news. The bad news is Jory's mom gets her report card and is pissssssssssed. These are not college-gettin'-in grades, Jory, geez. I probably wouldn't do too well either if my best friend was dying. Jory's mom says that EVERYONE goes to college, which is funny, given that in the Lurleneverse generally kids don't think they have to! Weird! Some of the earlier books seem a bit more entrenched in reality, even if it's a reality I don't quite like.

Even worse, Melissa has another fever. Argh! It's meningitis. That royally blows! And even worse, right after getting the news, Jory is stuck at some event with a loser date picked out by her mother. She runs out early, and finds her mom waiting for her. She knows she's in for a punishment, but she begs her mom to yell at her later. Finally, her mom is able to get a word in edgewise, and what she says makes me choke up EACH AND EVERY TIME DAMMIT:
Mrs. Delaney stepped in front of Jory as she started to leave. "Mrs. Austin called here about ten tonight, and Mrs. Garcia called us at the club."

Jory felt her heart pounding. "Tell me in the morning," she said, trying to step around her mother.

"Jory, you must listen to me."

"I don't want to listen." Jory fought a rising sense of panic. The walls seemed to be closing in. Why wouldn't her mother get out of her way? Childlike, Jory clamped her hands over her ears. "I can't hear you, Mother. I'm not going to listen."

Mrs. Delaney reached out, took Jory's wrists, and tugged. "Melissa died tonight, honey. Her heart gave out."
Even on my adult reread, I cried. So sue me. Believe it or not my heart isn't made of stone!

Jory finally reads the journal Melissa entrusted to her, and finds a letter from her. I actually don't hate on most of it, except for when Melissa says she's glad she didn't sleep with Ric so she can still be buried in virginal white. Holy CRAP are the Lurleneverse heroines into white. Guess what, ladies of the Lurleneverse, you can totes wear white once you've done the deed, and no one's the wiser! It's not a fucking law, and even if it was, I would march to repeal it. Whatever, apparently it's supposed to be A JOKE but I'm not laughing, Melissa. Sweet, dead Melissa. Aw!

Michael FINALLY takes Jory up in the hot air balloon! AT LAST! By now she has been accepted into college, as has her now-boyfriend, Lyle. Different schools too YES! All in all, I can't hate too much on this book. I hope Jory goes off to college, wears ridiculous shades of nail polish, has tons of mindblowing sex, and wears white all the time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

You're not my real mom, or One Last Wish: Mother, Help Me Live

It was with great trepidation that I began rereading One Last Wish: Mother, Help Me Live (published 1992), but we'll get into that in a bit. For now, let me tell you guys what it's about:
You don't know me, but I know about you... I can't make you live longer, I can't stop you from hurting. But I can give you one wish, as someone did for me.

When the doctors explain to Sarah MacGreggor and her parents that she will need a bone marrow transplant to live, she is distraught. Then Sarah learns that her family cannot be donors because they are not blood relatives. Sarah is furious that her parents never told her she was adopted.

Even as Sarah faces the devastating news, she is granted one last hope - the anonymous letter she receives allows her an incredible opportunity. She can search for her birth mother, who gave her up fifteen years ago. Now, when Sarah needs this woman for her very survival, what will she discover?

The copy I read looks like this:
This cover doesn't really even make any sense, like circumstances led to an open door but with Sarah facing away...? I don't get it. Whatever, our heroine looks appropriately sad but strong, and of course the evil biological mother's got a raging case of bitchface. Bio!Mom lives in Santa Monica, so I can't say I disagree with this portrayal of a Westsider. No offense, Westside. I'm just saying, this cover sums up every time I try to go over there to socialize. Me: sad, silent, hand over heart. Them: bitchface.

Of course there's a new edition, because if there's anything Lurlene's publishers are, it's SUPER INTO NEW EDITIONS. This isn't to be confused with SUPER INTO NEW EDITION which would look more like this:

Nope, Lurlene's people requisitioned something that looks more like this:

Um, is Sarah's biological mother DOLLY PARTON? Oh man, I would totally read that book. I would LIVE that book. (Except for the leukemia.)

Okay, people, so here's the deal. This is sort of a subject near and dear my heart, not because I or anyone I know needs a bone marrow transplant, but because my brother is adopted. So adoption is this totally normal NON-DRAMA thing in my family, and has been ever since I was very little and found out my parents were trying to adopt.

I still totally remember this episode of Family Ties where Skippy finds out he's adopted, and I was totes horrified that any parent would keep it secret from their kid for so long!Also I remember that my mom, who helped out in my brother's first grade classroom, shared with the teacher on the anniversary of my brother's adoption because back then we celebrated it as sort of a second birthday, and she was all I DON'T THINK YOU WANT TO MENTION THAT REALLY DO YOU SUCH A SECRET PRIVATE THING like they wanted to do satanic rituals in our Catholic grade school or something, and my mom was just all "uhhh, why wouldn't we be okay sharing this?"

Wow, are those seriously my only two points of reference? My own life and FAMILY frigging TIES?

Anyways, obviously, those events both occurred quite a long time ago, and things are pretty different now. Thanks, celebrities, for adopting all those kids! Now it's totes not seen as weird. Good for you!

(I'm not kidding, guys. I just read really sarcastic, I'm aware.)

Anyways, wasn't I recapping a book? Wouldn't you guys rather first watch the Family Ties theme? I thought so.

So the book. We open all HEAVY EXPOSITION with Sarah and her mom, who are all IT'S STARTING AGAIN ISN'T IT YES INDEED as Sarah's hair is falling out, so clearly that remission didn't take and she's back in chemo land. Damn, sorry Sarah.

Sarah lives in a small town in Georgia, so she has to be three hundred miles away in a big Memphis hospital. Wow, just yesterday I started planning a trip to Memphis for next year! Serendipity! This sucks for Sarah because her entire family can't be there the whole time. Her dad will be up soon, and her mom brings up the mystical magical story of Sarah's birth, which is that they tried SO HARD and SO LONG for a baby until she came along (then Tina two years later and Richie - wait, Richie?? - nine years after that).

Okay, I read the synopsis, so I know Sarah's mom is totes lying, which, ugh to start with. But to make up some elaborate tale on top of that? Couldn't she have just, ya know, not talked about it much? Less of a real lie than just not sharing one hundred percent of the truth? It's not like I know anyone who was all dying to know about the circumstances of THEIR CONCEPTION anyway. Not me, friends, not me.

That weekend, the whole fam visits. Richie is four and adorable. Tina is thirteen and A TOTAL WENCH. She's all YOU SURE GOT A LOT OF FLOWERS and [the room] DOESN'T LOOK TOO AWFUL TO ME like, dude, Tina, what the fuck is wrong with you, YOUR SISTER HAS FRIGGING LEUKEMIA. Tina is also envious of all the teen magazines (!) Sarah has. God, I hate Tina. I am on page five and already I hate everyone in this family except Sarah and Richie. And, sorry to spoil you guys, but Sarah won't remain on my good list for long.

The doctors talk to Sarah and her parents about her progress. Sarah's doing okay, but what would really help is, of course, a bone marrow transplant. Her parents are all WELL I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT ALSO DON'T TEST US OR OUR KIDS FOR COMPATIBILITY I THINK SARAH'S ACTUALLY FINE and Sarah's all, the hell?

After this, Sarah's parents reveal their big lie:
Her father stepped forward and took her hand. "Baby, there's no need for Tina or Richie to be typed for compatibility. They're not going to match you."

Sarah stared at then, confused and dumbfounded. "How can you be sure? They're my sister and brother."

Her mother shook her head. Tears trickled down her cheeks. "No, Sarah, they're not. [OMG WTF SHUT UP SHUT UP ACTUALLY THE CORRECT ANSWER IS "actually, Sarah, they're not your biological siblings"] When you were three days old, we adopted you."
Understandably, Sarah freaks the fuck out. Here's the short version of the story: they couldn't conceive, so they adopted her, then they ended up conceiving Tina (and then Richie) later on. That's actually super common.

Sarah seems less upset about the lying than being adopted, is all I AM NOT RELATED TO ANY OF YOU I AM JUST A LEGAL TRANSACTION I DON'T BELONG TO ANYONE WOE IS MEEEE and just SHUT UP SARAH. Lying is awful, and your parents really, really fucked up. That said, adoption is not some crappy inferior way to end up in a family, and it doesn't make you any less related to the people who adopted you. Great, now I hate you too.

Sarah wants time alone, and stares in the mirror:
She was seeing "eyes of such a pale, clear shade of blue as to resemble light streaming through a window." Scott Michaels had described them that way when she'd been eleven, and it had made her blush.
NO HE DIDN'T. I do not believe any eleven-year-old has ever uttered such a phrase. WAY TO CAPTURE THE REALISM OF TWEEN CONVERSATION LURLENE.

Soon, of course, Sarah gets THE LETTER. If this is your first OLW recap, head back here to read the full text. She keeps it secret, of course, like this is the way most people would react. Actually, guys, once this is posted, I'm going to create this week's poll, and that's what I'm going to find out. So if you read this on an RSS feed, be sure to actually come to the site.

Sarah goes home from the hospital but is still all whiny and emo about her sitch. No, not the cancer, not the lying, but the BEING ADOPTED. Shut up, Sarah. Her neighbor Scott of the AS TO RESEMBLE LIGHT STREAMING THROUGH A WINDOW Scott does visit, but she doesn't tell him about the adoption stuff, because she is ASHAMED. But after a blowup with heinous Tina where Sarah's all DON'T WORRY WE'RE NOT EVEN RELATED (which is rude and wrong uggghhhh I hate Sarah, though at least this time she also chastises her parents for the lying), she ends up telling Scott everything.

Despite that dumbass thing about blue eyes, Scott is pretty smart, because he has a friend who is adopted, and is super fine with it! Also he is quick to correct Sarah on saying shit like "real mom" when, duh, her REAL MOM is the one who raised her, and her biological mother is the one who gave birth to her. Thanks for that terminology lesson, Scott, that wenchface Sarah really needed it.

Sarah realizes, while talking to Scott, that she could FIND her biological mother, and maybe biological siblings, and then she'd have a great shot at the bone marrow transplant. This is actually not a bad idea! Scott says it would cost lots of money (I dunno, would it?) but that's fine because Sarah's got the OLW money.

So Sarah goes to her parents, and they sit her down to lecture her on the assface she's been lately. She also comes clean about the letter and says she wants to search for her biological mother. Sarah's mom keeps trying to guilt trip her, all THINK OF ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR FAMILY WITH THAT MONEY like, uh, Sarah's mom, I know your daughter is a wench and I know you are also a lying wench, but, uh, think about this. Do you want Sarah to live? Then face the fact that maybe this is necessary. ARGH. My parents were always nothing but supportive, telling my brother that once he was eighteen if he wanted any help finding biological family they would be there. They aren't lying jackholes though to be fair.

Sarah's mom does admit she's curious:
"I wanted a baby so badly, and well, if you must know, she didn't want hers at all. I couldn't imagine such a thing."
Seems an awful lot like talking smack about someone who made a REALLY TOUGH DECISION that, uh, resulted in you GETTING A BABY. Way to be all OH MY I COULDN'T IMAGINE! I know lots of women that give up their babies really really WANT THEM but can't for some reason or another. Or, you know, they're not ready to be moms. Or whatever else. GodDAMN I hate you, Sarah's mom. Judgey McBitchPants.

Sarah hires a private investigator who tracks down Sarah's biological mother.
Sarah read further, "...being the mother of a female child named (Baby Girl) Warren..." She stopped reading. Was that all Sarah had been to her--Baby Girl Warren? Hadn't Janelle even bothered to give her baby a name? [Uh, Sarah, she gave you up for adoption, why would she be thinking of freaking NAMING YOU?] Sarah's vision blurred, but she continued to read, "...and having sole right to custody and control of said child, said child having been born out of wedlock..."

Sarah winced. Of course, she'd known for some time that her natural mother and father had never married, but seeing the words in black and white cut through her like a knife.
WHY? I haven't thought having kids when you weren't married was sinful since I quit Catholic school. ARGH. This family is so fucking judgmental.

The private investigator reveals he does this work because he too was adopted and had a happy reunion with his biological family. He still likes his adopted family, though, he reveals that HE EVEN KEPT THEIR NAME. WTF! It's your fucking name too, you asshole. You don't give that up if you make a happy reunion with your biological family. GodDAMN Lurlene, did you talk to anyone who was ACTUALLY adopted?

The investigator tracks down Sarah's biological mother in a beach community near L.A. I am assuming it's supposed to be Santa Monica. Sarah, her mother, and the private eye all go together to confront her or whatever. This plan is stupid, but Sarah thinks while her biological mother could ignore a letter or phone call, she won't be able to refuse her in person. Maybe. I still hate everything about this plan. Also this book.

Janelle Warren lives modestly in a small house with two cats and a parrot. Holy crap, wouldn't the parrot try to eat the cats? Or vice versa? You guys, I am so scared of parrots I can't even tell you. Sarah wants to see Janelle before confronting her, so they stalk her to her usual restaurant where she meets up with her politics boyfriend. Sarah's all dazzled because Janelle's in designer clothes whereas everyone back home looks crappy all the time. Listen, I don't want to be all I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN SARAH but whenever I go back to my small hometown to visit, I'm often struck with these UH YOU SERIOUSLY LEFT THE HOUSE THAT WAY?? thoughts, and when my brother came out here to visit, he was laughing at how everyone looked, in his words, ready to go to a club at any moment. Maybe my brother and I are just jerks, though. It's possible.

So Sarah, her mom, and the P.I. go to Janelle's house, though Sarah goes alone to the door. Janelle's all GO AWAY! as soon as she realizes who Sarah is. Sarah cries in the car and is all BOO HOO MY REAL MOTHER DOESN'T WANT ME, and luckily her mom is all OH HELL NO I AM YOUR REAL MOM WHO SAT WITH YOU THROUGH CHEMO AND RAISED YOU AND ALL THAT OTHER STUFF and FINALLY Sarah gets it through her thick head. All three of them go to the door to confront Janelle, and explain why Sarah is there. Janelle is all YOU KNOW I COULD HAVE HAD AN ABORTION IT WAS LEGAL AND IT DOESN'T SHOW ON A WOMAN'S BODY LIKE PREGNANCY DOES and I am not even sure what the hell she's talking about. Is she wanting a thank you from Sarah? Is this some sort of slam against abortion? I DON'T EVEN KNOW. Janelle's a douchebag too.

Anyways, Janelle says she can't help with the bone marrow transplant, and that Sarah's biological father doesn't have kids either. All right then! Sarah makes this beautiful observation:
Janelle turned and walked to a large picture window and toyed with the drapery cord. The curtains were already shut, just like Janelle Warren's heart, Sarah thought.
Sarah's mom leaves their hotel info with Janelle, and they go. Janelle shows up to explain. She lets Sarah know that she thought it better her baby go to a loving home with two parents, not one. Her boyfriend, Sarah's biological father, actually died before Sarah was born. Janelle didn't want to tell her parents about the pregnancy, because they had such pride in her.
"In those days, there was a certain amount of shame in being an unwed mother. Women didn't wear illegitimate pregnancies like badges of pride as they do today."
Uhhh I hate you, Janelle. Also, I find this totally hard to believe from this character. Firstly, she lives in the L.A. area, which is a blue city in a blue county in a blue state. Secondly, she herself went through an--I really hate using this term--illegitimate pregnancy herself. Wouldn't she think it BETTER for women to go through less shame? ARGH. I hate these people.

Janelle also reveals that her bone marrow is unusable because she had breast cancer. Damn! They at least have a nice goodbye.

Back at home, Tina has organized a bone marrow donor drive! Go Tina! Sarah realizes she obviously DID have a REAL family all along. Good lesson learned, Sarah. I still think all of you are heinous, though.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Could it be that Lurlene is... wrong?

My friend Stacey sent me a link to a really interesting article about childhood leukemia risks:
However, it is also thought that contracting some childhood infections - which are often readily spread in environments such as playgroups where children are in close contact with each other - may prime the immune system against leukaemia.

Conversely, if the immune system is not challenged in early life, this is thought to raise the risk of an inappropriate response to subsequent infections, making the development of leukaemia more likely.

Wow, so those dreaded working moms, putting their kids in... gasp... daycare? Probably less likely to have kids who develop leukemia. Take that, Lurleneverse!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Who needs sex when you've got horses, or One Last Wish: Sixteen and Dying

The lovely Meghan posted a request on the master list for One Last Wish: Sixteen and Dying (published 1992), so here we go! At first I thought "Yay, a OLW book I haven't yet read!" but at a certain point in the story I totes pulled a Celine as it all came back to me. Oh, man, was I still reading crappy Lurlene books in all seriousness in 1992? What a terrifying thought.

You guys want to know what this one's about? Well, I am happy to tell you!
You don't know me, but I know about you....

I can't make you live longer. I can't stop you from hurting. But I can give you one wish, as someone did for me.

It's hard for Anne Wingate and her father to accept the doctors' diagnosis: Anne is HIV positive. Seven years earlier, before blood screening was required, Anne received a transfusion to save her life, and the blood was tainted. Now Anne must deal with the inevitable progression of her condition. When an anonymous benefactor promises to grant a single wish with no strings attached, Anne decides to spend the summer on a ranch out west and live as normally as she possibly can. The summer seems even better than she dreamed, especially after she meets Morgan. But Anne hasn't confided in Morgan about her condition, and when her health begins to deteriorate, she suddenly leaves the ranch.

Is there time for Anne and Morgan to meet again?
This is kind of a weird book to write about, because HIV and AIDS diagnoses are SO DIFFERENT nowadays, you know? If a healthy New York girl with money tested positive for HIV these days, it'd be sad, obviously, but she wouldn't be looking at an automatic death sentence, just some life changes. Right? It's sort of like listening to Rent. Well, without the OH MY GOD WHY DID I EVER THINK BENNY WAS WRONG? feeling.

Anyways, I will try my best to keep all that in mind as I traverse the rocky shores of Sixteen and Dying. Especially warm thoughts about Benjamin Coffin the Third.

After looking at that, I hate to bring you guys down with bad graphic design, so just remember you can always scroll back up to feel better. I know that's what I'll be doing.

This is the newest cover:

You guys, is it just me, or is the position of that horse's head a little... dirty? Who the hell Photoshopped this, someone who just got fired from some horse fetish magazine? Also follow the guy's line of vision! OH MY GOD DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY. I mean, not that boobs are inherently dirty, I'm JUST SAYING.

My version has this cover:

Sorry, that is literally the largest picture I could find. It's not as great of a cover, I guess, though it isn't perverse, so there's THAT. The guy totally isn't as hot as he's supposed to be, but, whatever. He's dressed like a bunch of jackasses I went to high school with who apparently just couldn't get enough denim, whereas the other edition at least has the whole hot cowboy thing going on. Whatever, I can't believe I'm giving a fictional cowboy this much thought.

The particular copy I'm lucky enough to have (i.e. purchase for dirt cheap in a giant lot off of eBay) is hardcover, but not like with a slipcover or anything, nope, it's just printed on a hardcover. Also on the back there's this little seal that says ESPECIALLY FOR GIRLS which, just, WHAT? I mean, we've been over this a million times, how I hate uber-gendered stuff for kids, like, shouldn't we be offering unlimited reading possibilities (keeping in mind maturity/reading level) and not starting them out with this idea that boys are allowed some things while girls should be reading about dead girls and horses and shit? ARGH. I mean, not that I didn't do a lot of reading about dying gentle heroines and horses and yet STILL turn out, well, me. I'm JUST SAYING.

Oh man, and I OPENED the book and the inner binding (listen, people, I used Wikipedia, I can't figure out the term) is printed with an ESPECIALLY FOR GIRLS pattern. I am not kidding!

So the book opens with Anne and her dad at a dude ranch in Montana. Hey, does anyone else automatically have the same thought process whenever you hear about a dude ranch?:

There's all that really crappy exposition, no, not the kind where it's all "REMEMBER WE ARE HERE FOR THIS REASON AND THAT REASON" but the kind where it's all "it is amazing we are able to be here because of THAT THING and we are very depressed because of THAT OTHER THING" and I guess it's supposed to build suspense, but really I'm all JUST FUCKING SAY WHAT'S GOING ON PEOPLE.

I mean, good books use that technique all the time, to differing results, but, you know, seriously, this is just annoying.

Anne's dad is a professor at NYU. Awesome! What a nice change of pace to give a dude that kind of job and not, you know, some sort of manly-man occupation. Anne's dad isn't thrilled about being here, for a couple reasons. One, he's a New Yorker, the kind who fucking hates nature and all of that. Anne's dad, I feel your pain! I myself am not a New Yorker, but whenever people suggest I get in touch with nature I'm all LISTEN I LIVE NEAR A PARK ISN'T THAT ENOUGH SOME OF US HAPPEN TO LIKE LIVING WITHIN CIVILIZATION ALL RIGHT YOU KNOW WHAT I FIND RELAXING IS KNOWING SOMEONE WILL DELIVER THAI FOOD TO ME NIGHT AND DAY. Ahem. I've got his back here.

I've got his back about the other thing too. See, Anne has HIV. The doctors urged her to begin AZT treatment IMMEDIATELY but because of potential side effects she took her OLW letter and check to get a summer at a ranch. I seriously can't believe her dad let her make this decision. I mean, this is where I can't tell if we're talking about a seriously stupid life plan or datedness. If you know you're gonna die soon, no matter what, you probably want to make that wish of a lifetime happen before you're too sick to enjoy it. OR DEAD. That said, I feel like had she started the AZT before it progressed to full-blown AIDS (sorry to be such a spoiler queen this time around, kids, this book is just structured strangely to recap normally) she could have lived a lot longer. Yeah? Are AZT side effects bad enough to pick death instead?

Time, once again, to turn to Wikipedia:
Common side effects of AZT include nausea, headache, changes in body fat, and discoloration of fingernails and toenails. More severe side effects include anemia and bone marrow suppression, which can be overcome using erythropoietin or darbepoetin treatments. These unwanted side effects might be caused by the sensitivity of the γ-DNA polymerase in the cell mitochondria. AZT has been shown to work additively or synergistically with many anti-HIV agents; however, acyclovir and ribavirin decrease the antiviral effect of AZT. Drugs that inhibit hepatic glucuronidation, such as indomethacin, acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) and trimethoprim, decrease the elimination rate and increase the toxicity. The side effects from AZT and its toxicity have been serious enough to warrant a black box warning from the FDA.
That black box warning part does sound pretty scary. That said, death sounds way worse.

When the book talks about the research Anne's dad did, they tell about this AMAZING COMPUTER LIBRARY he can access using "a modem, a special phone". Considering this book is from 1992, that's totally okay to write, but, ha! Remember those days, kids, back BEFORE WE ALL USED THE INTERNETS? What a sad, dark time.

While Anne's dad stresses out, Anne calms him by placing her hands on his chest. Kind of ewwww.

So Anne goes to check out the horses, and accidentally checks out the WILD HORSES instead of the TAME HORSES, and this dude Morgan totally reams her for being a STUPID TOURIST. Uh, Morgan, whether or not you hate tourists, since you work on a fucking tourist dude ranch, maybe you should try being a little nicer to them.

Then of course we get stuck with Morgan's POV. He hates Anne because obviously if she can afford the whole summer there she must be rich. I love that what we're supposed to take away from this isn't "wow, what a fucking awful way to judge someone" but "oh, no worries, Morgan, Anne isn't rich, she just got this bigass check BECAUSE SHE'S DYING!" What is with the Lurleneverse and the evilness of rich people? While, listen, I guess it's better than this current trend with, like, the Gossip Girl series and spinoffs where everyone's loaded and anyone lesser is seen as, like, morally-flawed, I'm not much into this outlook either.
The only thing that got to him about her was her large, expressive brown eyes, which appeared somehow sad. What could a rich girl from the East have to be sad about?
I liked that her location was thrown in there too. Man, those richies from NY, they are NEVER sad.

Anne's thinking about her sad predicament, how thanks to HIV even if she lived long enough, can't have kids, or even have sex. Then she says this beautiful line:
No sex didn't mean no love.
Meghan actually quoted this line to me to convince me to do this recap next. (Totes worked, obviously!) I mean, I agree? But I also think these books are really way too into sex being bad and eeeeevil. Plus lots of people with HIV enjoy full sex lives by practicing safe sex.

Anne runs into a girl who works there who's boohooing, named Marta Rodriguez. As you can tell from Marta's name, she likes to throw in Spanish words and she's from "the barrio" in L.A. Folks, I've never heard anyone around here refer to a part of town as the barrio, so I did a quick Google search to see if Lurlene was being racist. Right away I found out that Edward James Olmos grew up in the barrio here, so I guess I'll give Lurlene a pass here. Thank you, Edward James Olmos.

Anyway, Marta, who's known as Marti, is there because her parents made her. Her brother worked at the ranch two summers in a row and it saved him from his gang life. Okay then! Marti's boyfriend Peter Manterra is in a gang, so Marti's parents think she could stand to learn valuable dude ranch life lessons. Oh, fine. Marti says she misses her boyfriend like crazy but it is nice to be on the ranch because it's hot and mean in the barrio. East L.A. can get pretty brutal, so, again, FINE.

Marti also expositions that Morgan is the ranch owners' nephew, and that he's reckless.

Back in Morgan's brainskull, he thinks about Stacy Donner from SF who was a "rich debutante":
She'd toyed with him. He learned from the experience. Rich girls were fickle and not to be trusted.
Aw yeah, classism and sexism in one foul swoop. I hate you, Morgan.

So Morgan's trying to break in the wild horse Anne was checking out when she first got there. This is because Anne has an eye for horses! This makes Morgan think PERHAPS she's different than all the dumbass tourists. I hope I never have to work hard to impress someone like Morgan; the task seems frigging impossible. Have I mentioned? I HATE MORGAN.

One of the ranch workers named Skip has a thing for Marti and asks her on a picnic. Since her heart is with Peter Manterra, she asks Anne and Morgan to go along so it'll be less awkward. I never understand in books how making something a double date makes anything LESS awkward. Marti claims it'll be a real fiesta because this is TOTALLY how people who speak Spanish speak English.

Chapter Eight starts in maybe the creepiest ever, by the way:
Morgan began to watch Anne.
He stalks her to a church, and tells her about his Native American great-great-great grandmother, who converted to Christianity. I guess that means she's a good person then. Then Anne recites some Emily Dickenson to him. If you guys think this sounds hot, you need help.

So the kids finally have the picnic of awkward. Skip is, like, the most awkward person ever:
"I wasn't sure what everybody'd want to eat. I brought fried chicken, tortillas, burritos--do you like these things?" he asked.
DO YOU LIKE THESE THINGS? If someone ever asked me that I'd totally punch them in the face. Well, after making sure to get a burrito. Also, what are they doing with the tortillas? Did he just think, "well, I really wanna nail Marti, and she's from the barrio, so... I'll get some... tortillas? To impress her"? I hate it when people who don't understand food write about it. Also godDAMN am I hungry and would seriously like a burrito. If I didn't have work tomorrow, you guys, I would totally drive down to the taco stand. Also if I thought it was open at eleven on a Sunday night.

Marti gets all flirty with Skip, believe it or not:
"Everything Spanish is hot," Marti said with a flirtatious, sidelong glance toward Skip.
Um, Marti, actually, I think you're Mexican, not Spanish. To distract me from my head wanting to explode between Lurlene's cultural insensitivity and my deep longing for some Mexican eats, here's a little something the Spanish/Mexican snafu made me think of:

(While you guys were watching that, I totally just microwaved some enchiladas. Success!)

Anne and Morgan talk about their families. Anne's mother was British; she met Anne's dad when he was studying at Oxford. She died in an accident when Anne was little. (It was the same accident that required Anne to get a blood transfusion that ended up giving her HIV, by the way.) Morgan's dad is dead and his mom left. And he's not sayin' any more! Then Morgan tries to end the night early. Skip's all, dude, for serious? I'm totally screwing this girl who's either Spanish or Mexican! But Anne overhears Morgan say Anne's dad told him to leave Anne alone. Ruh roh! Anne's pissed. I would be too! I get where Anne's dad is coming from, but, geez, let your daughter make her own decisions. Or if you're that terrified about the possibilities of your daughter making ill-informed decisions about sex OR ANYTHING ELSE, maybe you should, I don't know, TALK TO HER. But I'm sorry, we're in the Lurleneverse. Like THAT would happen.

Anne confronts her dad (go Anne!) and he's all... weird:
"Anne, this type of attraction is a first for you. [How does he know that?] It's been a long time coming, but the time has arrived. [Hello, weird sentence, dude.] I've never seen you interested in a boy before, and it's... difficult for me."

. . .

"As your father," he said, "I've been both anticipating and dreading this day for years. The day when you'd meet a guy who saw you for the wonderful person you are. And wanted you in every way."

. . .

"I never wanted to think of you growing up and getting involved with any man... not even the one you marry and now...."
Um, fucking creepy, Anne's dad. I'm really glad I didn't go to NYU and therefore avoided you. And if that wasn't bad enough...:
First he lost her mother; now, he was losing her. Not in a normal way of giving her away in marriage. But to premature death.
Okay, "giving her away" in marriage is icky and gross, I'm sorry. If you actually think of your daughter as, like, your property to hand over to her husband, just, ugh. Also, considering that LOSING HER is ridiculous. RIDICULOUS. Seriously, I started out liking you, Anne's dad, and now I feel my feelings have changed. You, sir, are creepy with a capital creep.

Morgan and Anne are hanging out when she cuts her hand and begins to bleed. Understandably, she freaks and flees the scene. He's all, TF? Luckily she's fine. Soon after she goes shopping in town and finds this amaaaaaazing saddle, which she buys for Morgan with some of her OLW money.

There's a town rodeo, where Morgan gets thrown off a horse and is injured. But he's okay. Yay? Anne goes back with him to his cabin, where he asks her to spend the night. Whoa! Obviously she says no and leaves, which hurts his feelings. Dude, I know you don't realize she has HIV, but even so, girls are allowed to NOT WANT TO FUCK YOU. Argh.

The saddle shows up the next day, which is bad timing because Morgan's all YOU RICH GIRLS THINK YOU CAN BUY YOUR WAY OUT OF HURTING MY FEELINGS which, just, no, Morgan, NO. Shutttt uppppp.

Things get worse. Of course. Morgan's wild horse hurts its leg, and Morgan has to shoot it. Oh man, I'd fall apart. I hate sad stuff with animals, so I vote NO to this part of the book. Dying kids, sure, but please don't shoot hurt animals! Sniff.

Anyways, on top of that, Anne is worse, and has to go back to NYC to start on AZT. Bad timing, T-cells. She lets Marti know she's sick (though she doesn't say how badly and due to what) and asks her to tell Morgan.

Back in NYC, Anne has full-blown AIDS and is quite ill. Poor Anne! They have a volunteer nurse who helps out a lot; she does so because her own son died of AIDS. I like you, volunteer nurse. You deserve to be somewhere nicer than the Lurleneverse.

Morgan shows up! OMG! Anne is kind of freaked about her shitty appearance, but he doesn't seem to mind. Finally she is upfront with him; also he is upfront with her. His dad isn't dead, but in a hospital in St. Louis (shoutout to my hometown represent!) dying from Huntington's Chorea. By the way, this was when I realized I'd already read this book. Huntington's is seriously THE WORST UGH. For those of you who don't know of it, Huntington's is a neurological disorder that first displays as jerky movements, but eventually renders a person pretty much unable to function and their brain totally gone to mush. Sad, sad, sad. It's always fatal.

Morgan hangs around NYC on a long-term basis, and he and Anne spend lots of time together. He asks her if she hadn't had HIV if she would have spent the night with him, and she says no, because she wants wearing white on her wedding dress to MEAN SOMETHING. Ugh! I hate all this virgin worship. I'd hate it a lot less if the focus wasn't so much on purity of young ladies alone. Guess guys are free to screw whatever whores they want! Also, seriously, no one looks good in white. It is NOT slimming. PRIORITIES!

Anne does research on her dad's computer about Huntington's, and learns there's a test. Aw, man, you guys, do you remember on Everwood where Hannah had to decide whether or not to take the test since her dad had Huntington's? Broke my goddamn heart, oh, Hannah! If only you were in this book and not frigging Morgan.

Anyways, Morgan says he knows of the test, and isn't interested in taking it. Even though Morgan is being sort of stupid about this, it is way more complicated than Anne's acting. Listen, I paid attention during Everwood! You have to go through all this psychological testing to prove you can handle getting the results if they're bad. I mean, finding out you're going to get a terrible fatal disease at some point in your life is not something you can just tell everyone. You know? Though I guess when you're sixteen and dying of AIDS, you're pretty much like JUST GET OVER IT YOU IDIOT.

So Anne dies, of course, and is buried in this Native American wedding dress Morgan had given her for Christmas. Uh, inappropriate? She left Morgan a check to cover the cost of testing. The thought's nice, Anne, but I have a very hard time believing Morgan's gonna even make it through the psychological portion of that process.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Money Can't Bring Back Your Dead Friend but it'll Make Your Life Way Better, or One Last Wish: a Time to Die

The One Last Wish series came in second in the poll of what you guys wanted me to recap, and I was grateful for some time away from Dawn friggin' Rochelle. So off we go! By the way, whenever I hear "one last wish" I think of that song "One Last Kiss" from Bye Bye Birdie, which, really, subconscious? That's where you go?

I don't really think the series needs an introduction; the first few books didn't need to be read in any sort of order, and I'm pretty sure this was the first or one of the first anyways, so we'll be set. Let us, gentle readers, embark on a journey together, a journey to discover a Time to Die (published 1992).

What wonders await us?:
Sixteen-year-old Kara Fischer has cystic fibrosis and only months to live. But the close-knit bond she develops with Vince, who also has the disease, helps her come to terms with her own illness. Given one last wish, Kara wonders if miracles could really happen.
Wow, really, marketing team? That is all you could come up with? I see my work's cut out for me.

Amazon features some leafy new cover I've never seen before:

I guess the time to die is autumn!

Luckily a sweet reader sent their own image to Amazon of the cover I remember:

The weird thing about the One Last Wish books is, basically, going into them you know the person's going to die. There's no mystery there! It's a weird premise for YA books, yeah? Rows and rows of dying kids, whee! Oh, Lurlene, your ways do fascinate me.

(Then again, I probably spend as much time writing ABOUT these books as she does writing them, so maybe I'm the one whose ways should be examined.)

So Kara has cystic fibrosis, a disease we have not yet encountered in the Lurleneverse! There was some book I read a bunch growing up about a girl with CF, because I was totally that child who loved reading endlessly about kids with diseases, but if you weren't a devoted reader of afflictions, let me tell you what Wikipedia has to tell us about it:
Cystic fibrosis (also known as CF, mucoviscoidosis, or mucoviscidosis) is a hereditary disease that affects mainly the exocrine (mucus) glands of the lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines, causing progressive disability due to multisystem failure.

Thick mucus production, as well as a less competent immune system, results in frequent lung infections. Diminished secretion of pancreatic enzymes is the main cause of poor growth, fatty diarrhea and deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins. Males can be infertile due to the condition congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens. Often, symptoms of CF appear in infancy and childhood. Meconium ileus is a typical finding in newborn babies with CF.

Individuals with cystic fibrosis can be diagnosed prior to birth by genetic testing. Newborn screening tests are increasingly common and effective. The diagnosis of CF may be confirmed if high levels of salt are found during a sweat test, although some false positives may occur.

There is no cure for CF, and most individuals with cystic fibrosis die young: many in their 20s and 30s from lung failure. However, with the continuous introduction of many new treatments, the life expectancy of a person with CF is increasing to ages as high as 40 or 50. Lung transplantation is often necessary as CF worsens.

Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common life-shortening, childhood-onset inherited diseases. In the United States, 1 in 3900 children are born with CF.
That sounds craptastic, doesn't it? Sorry, Kara, if I didn't already feel bad for you knowing you're in a book within the ONE LAST WISH series, this would put me over the edge.

By the way, when I was thirteen, I totally wrote a book about a girl named Kara (or Cara), though she didn't have CF, but her boyfriend sort of RANDOMLY DIED. His name was Johnny because I was really into Cry-Baby at the time. Of all the crap books I wrote back then, I think it topped out as the worst, though - believe it or not - it was my ongoing project for G&T. I KNOW! Anyways, the name Kara never fails to remind me of that terrible, terrible story. Also Johnny Depp.

So Kara is just getting out of the hospital after recovering from an infection. She has a supercool therapist, Christy, who administers some of the painful treatments that have to be done several times a day to keep her lungs clear. I totally remember that from that other CF book!! I wonder what that book was. If any of you have any ideas, feel free to tell me.

Kara's got this dude friend named Vince, who's her age and goes to her school and also has CF. Vince is supposed to be really great, always being sweet to her and visiting her and blah blah blah, but I just think Vince is vaguely creepy. I mean, this could just be me; a lot of the so-called romantic stuff in books and rom-coms wigs me out, though I know I totes ate it up as a kid.

Kara's thinking about all the treatments and mucus, and says to herself CF was so gross which, seriously, is one of the most realistic reactions to one's disease within the Lurleneverse I've ever heard. Don't worry, guys, it won't stay realistic and hurt your brain TOO much. Promise.

Christy's brother's moving to town because he had trouble getting along with their parents. His name's Eric and he'll be going to the same high school as Kara, so she asks Kara to show him around. Kara wants to know how she'll recognize him, so Christy shows her a picture. Of course he's a total hottie. I'll be straight with you guys, this is totally the kind of situation the mind of young Ames dreamed of. Instant hottie boyfriend!

Of course Kara tracks Eric down. And does Eric like moving from Houston to Nashville?:
"I've only been here four days. I haven't seen too much of the city. There are more hills than in Texas, and it's a lot greener, too." His gaze skimmed over her body. "Girls here are pretty, and so far, I like what I see."

So Eric offers to give Kara a ride home, and she asks:
"You have a horse, or a car?"
Kara, that is the worst flirting I've ever, ever heard.

So unfortunately we get some of Eric's POV. He is super into Kara:
She was such a beautiful girl--blond with large brown eyes that totally dominated her elfin face She was petite, like a little doll, even if she was a bit thin.
For the first time all afternoon, he wondered why Christy worked with Kara. The pretty blond girl looked perfectly fine to him. More than fine.

"I'm glad the two of you met. She liked you."

The information pleased him. "She's one sweet babe," Eric said candidly. "A very sweet babe."

Christy had started for the kitchen, but turned on him the moment the comment was out of his mouth. "You be nice to her, Eric. She's not one of your silly bimbos."

Taken aback, Eric stared. "What are you talking about? 'My bimbos'?"

"Mom and Dad told me you were running with some pretty wild kids back home. They said some of your girlfriends weren't exactly high-quality. Kara's not that type."
Okay, so now I hate Eric, Christy, AND their parents.

Christy explains to Eric that Kara has CF. He's a bit grossed out:
Already, Eric disliked the description. Who wanted to think about body fluids?
I thought teenage guys were alllll about body fluids actually!

So apparently Kara's mom used to be super overprotective, but a therapist helped her get all straightened out, and she even convinced her to take a full-time job, so Kara's mom is actually a big ad agency wiz! Wow! A working mom who did the right thing by BECOMING a working mom! I'm impressed, Lurlene. And Kara's mom! Go you!
Kara casually mentioned Eric. "Any brother of Christy's must be a fine young man. I'd like to meet him."

Kara couldn't think of anything she'd rather not have happen. Both her parents would probably sit Eric down and grill him like a cheese sandwich.

So now that Eric knows about Kara's CF, he totes blows her off. Way to go, dumbass! I mean, okay, I guess if I was a teenager it might be sort of scary to find that out about a person you were interested in, but, man, Eric, way to be a jerk.

Luckily Vince is well enough to also be back at school, so at least Kara has him and her BFF Elyse to hang out with. There's some sort of Fall Festival thing the school does, where Vince is going to run the haunted house. He offers to let Kara help:
"The count must leave you now, my dear." He mimicked the accent of Hollywood's best vampires.
The phrase "Hollywood's best vampires" hurts my brain so much I have to stop thinking about it.

Eric notices Vince at school:
When [Vince] smiled, Eric saw white, straight teeth, and decided that some girls might think the guy good-looking.
Wow, Eric, what a bizarro way to phrase that. Listen, buddy, there's nothing wrong with one man noticing how good-looking another man is.

Kara, who's an artist, actually ends up doing face-painting at the Fall thing, and Eric finally approaches her, and he wants a dragon painted on his face, like it's some badass move. Dude, I don't care if you get the devil in a fistfight with Shaft painted on your face, it's fucking FACE-PAINTING and there's nothing badass about it. Hate to break it to you!

Of course Kara falls for it, though, and they end up dancing at the... dance portion of the evening. Eric questions what's going on between her and Vince, and she tries to explain they're just friends. Considering Vince is always hanging on her and telling her how hot she is, I don't exactly blame Eric for asking. That said, Eric, you've been hiding away and getting your fucking face painted, so I don't know why you're suddenly all deserving of answers.

Vince appears to take Kara home, which is a bit HEY JEALOUSY but he also knows Kara doesn't have the strength for a big night out, so he takes her home. Unfortunately, it's not just that she's tired, it's that an infection has flared up. Oh noes! Back in the hospital she goes. Man, CF is a friggin' pain.

While in the hospital, Kara gets a letter. THE letter, you guys. Since it's the first OLW book I'm covering, I will go ahead and type the whole damn thing:
Dear Kara,

You don't know me, but I know about you and because I do I want to give you a special gift. Accompanying this letter is a certified check, my gift to you with no strings attached to spend on anything you want. No one knows about this gift except you, and you are free to tell anyone you want.

Who I am isn't really important, only that you and I have much in common. Through no fault of our own we have endured pain and isolation and have spent many days in a hospital feeling lonely and scared. I hoped for a miracle, but most of all I hoped for someone to truly understand what I was going through.

I can't make you live longer. I can't stop you from hurting, but I can give you one wish as someone did for me. My wish helped me find purpose, faith, and courage.

Friendship reaches beyond time and the true miracle is in giving, not receiving. Use my gift to fulfill your wish.

Your forever friend,
Enclosed with the letter is a check for $100,000. Holy shit! You guys, how friggin' crazy would that be? CRAZY! I have no idea what I'd do if I ever got a letter like that. I mean, obviously unless I bend the wibbly-wobbly rules of time and space I will never be a dying teenager, but I'm just saying! It's so nutso and random!

Kara doesn't tell everyone in the world about the check, like I probably would. By then my Facebook status would totes read Ames is in possession of a check for $100k OMG YOU GUYS!

Eric sees Vince working out at the gym:
Eric could see how Vince's upper body was developing through the course of his workouts.
Man, Eric is so friggin' in love with Vince!

Vince actually confronts Eric about his never being around Kara since she went in the hospital, so Eric pushes himself to do so. Good boy, Eric. Of course you'd do anything Vince asked you to!

Kara gets to go home for Thanksgiving, with the order that she has to return to the hospital after the weekend. On Friday night Eric comes over, and they go out, where they smooch a little, which, well, fine, it's nice. At least Kara's getting in some kissing before the big death.

Vince comes by too, of course:
Vince came every day after school, sat by her bed and read to her, passages from the Bible, poetry, magazine articles, novels. If he came to an especially sexy passage, he'd stop and joke, "Now, turn your thumb down if you think your modesty can't take this."
I have to admit I seriously was all "SEXY PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE??" Man, I would have paid more attention during those seven grueling years of Catholic school, if only I'd known! Seriously, though, what the hell is Vince reading?!

So Kara goes back into the hospital and dies, big shocker. Eric can't bring himself to go to her funeral, of course, and of course Vince has to ream him for this when he runs into him visiting Kara's tombstone.

Oh, and I bet you're wanting to know about that last wish, right? Kara's parents invite over Christy, Eric, Elyse, and Vince. Kara has plans for all of them. Christy is to take her share of the money and start medical school. Eric is to get his beat up old car restored. Elyse should go on a shopping spree. Vince should buy a home gym (probably to shield him from the lustful eyes of Eric). Wow, was that anticlimactic for anyone else?

Then Eric and Vince decide to be friends. I bet Eric's gonna be using Vince's home gym, if you know what I mean.