Friday, April 11, 2008

I want a plot, or I Want to Live

Today we arrive at the sequel to Six Months to Live, I Want to Live (published 1987). While this title isn't one that's gonna grab you and hold on, at least it's NOT A LIE.

You know, normally with companion novels, EVEN LURLENE'S, I'm sort of anxious to find out what's up with our trusty gang. Honestly, this time? I'm really not. How did Dawn Rochelle get five freaking books? She is the most boring protag we've met so far.

So what's book two about? Hold onto your wigs and keys, folks, you won't be shocked at all!:
Dawn Rochelle has just turned fourteen, and her cancer has been in remission for almost a year.

This summer, as she helps prepare for her brother's wedding and goes to camp, her life seems almost normal again.

But when Dawn returns home from camp, she's suddenly tired all the time. Her latest test results show that the worst has happened: Her leukemia is no longer in remission. Dawn must receive a bone marrow transplant from her brother. Even with the transplant, she only has a fifty-percent chance of survival. Will Dawn live to celebrate her fifteenth birthday?
Considering we've got three more books to go, I bet she will!

Shall we take a stroll through cover history?

I'm with snappleaddict, who in the comments wished she could have just handed Dawn Rochelle a bottle of conditioner. Geez, Dawn Rochelle, take care of your hair and it'll take care of you. I mean, oops, besides all that chemo stuff. Also, really, your hair grew out this much yet? That seems unlikely.

Next up we got this one, and I'm sorry that this was literally the largest photo I could find:

This Dawn Rochelle looks pretty cute; I think it's actually the same girl as on the first version of this printing. Hurrah for consistency!

Also, seriously, this book has gotten more reprintings than any Lurlene's written. I'm guessing because it was where her leukemia legacy began that it became this HUGE THING but it's weird looking back now. I mean, as riddled with creepiness as it is, give me Too Young to Die any day. But I guess this book being about a younger girl makes it hotter with the young ones? I seriously have no idea.

Boring, but uber tasteful! I guess that's... something.

And lastly:

Weirdly enough, take out the teddy bear, and I'm all "aw, where's the teddy bear?" And, again with the LURLENE McDANIEL PRESENTS A VERY SPECIAL DAWN ROCHELLE BOOK. Um, or something.

This book also has an amazing opening:
The one thing that Dawn Rochelle remembered most about her fourteenth birthday was that she was still alive.
Dawn Rochelle writes in her diary because:
She'd learned about keeping a diary from Sandy. She often felt that if she died, the diary was something special and personal her parents could keep.
WAIT WHAT? That's the weirdest reason EVER to keep a diary. I mean, I can see writing down things if one had battled a terminal illness, but, really, the crap about wanting to kiss boys and such? That's just weird, Dawn Rochelle.

Dawn Rochelle's sort-of friend Rhonda comes over and gives her a birthday gift, but clearly it's just to scope out Dawn Rochelle's hottie brother Rob Rochelle. At least Rhonda is sort of nice. I guess. They commiserate about not having any interested boys:
"I'm too young for all the neat guys," Rhonda complained.

Dawn understood Rhonda's complaint. "Tell me about it. Who's interested in a fourteen-year-old with..." she stopped, feeling her cheeks burn. "...with no curves and bumps [BUMPS??] in the right places." [WHAT ARE THE RIGHT PLACES FOR BUMPS?] With cancer, her brain said.
I know she means boobs but WTF!!! "Bumps" just make me think of tumors. Thanks, Dawn Rochelle. I think you just have cancer on the brain. This, of course, is different than cancer OF the brain.

Rob DOES come home, though, and is mighty creepy:
"You're turning into a very pretty young lady."

She blushed and pushed away from him. "Oh, come on."

"You doubt the word of a man who's personally surveyed hundreds of girls?"
WTF "personally surveyed"??? I hope he's served hundreds of restraining orders!

Rob takes Dawn to her clinic check-up, because he wants to be a part of that side of her life. I guess that's pretty nice, for a surveyor. A few days later, Rob's ladyfriend Darcy Collins comes over, and she's all perfectly-looking and rich, so of course we should all worry right away. I think Jory Delaney is the only nice rich person who's lived in the Lurleneverse. Oh! There's Neil! Okay. That's TWO.

Darcy studies journalism, and wants to work on-camera. Rob thinks that's a great idea:
"Don't you think she'd make a great sportscaster? All the men would tune in just to watch her read the scores."

Darcy punched Rob [yay!] playfully [boo!]. "I'd like to think they'd tune in because of my ability, not my looks."

"With your looks, who needs ability?"
OH MY GOD SHUT UP ROB ROCHELLE! I'm sentencing you to get your ass kicked by a bunch of tough-ass feminists.

So of course Rob and Darcy are getting married, because that's what twenty year olds do! Dawn Rochelle's reaction makes me worry about the effects of chemo on her brain:
"That means I'll be an aunt."
Dawn Rochelle's parents are worried that Rob won't be able to support Darcy, but he assures them with his PART-TIME JOB at a menswear store they'll be fine. WHAT! When I was in college I worked a full-time job and STILL had to live with my parents, how on earth can someone support themselves and a spouse ENTIRELY off of a freaking PART-TIME income? And retail at that! What the hell kind of tips is Rob picking up?

So Darcy asks Dawn Rochelle to be in the wedding, but Dawn Rochelle doesn't feel like Darcy actually wants her in it, since she's all cancerous and whatever. I feel sort of bad for Dawn Rochelle, but Darcy's not doing anything wrong except existing in perfection. Sadly, I've hated people for less.

It's the last day of school! Okay! I can't keep track of time in these books! Dawn Rochelle runs into hottie crush Jake Macka, who is unfortunately moving to Cincinnati. Jake's all happy her hair's growing long again. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? I've been growing my hair out for, like, a year now, and it's just STARTING to be long, and I started with, ya know, a short bob, NOT BALDNESS. Creepily enough, looks like Jake's a future hair-fucker:
Jake's voice dropped, and she had to lean forward to catch his next words. "I sometimes wanted to touch it to see if it was as soft as it looked."

Dawn thought her heart would hammer through her chest. Her mouth went dry. "You can touch it now. I mean, since you're moving and all, and I'll never see you again. I don't mind if you touch it."

Jake's hand rose and he caught the ends of her hair in the tips of his fingers. ["IN" the tips of his fingers?? HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK? EW.] "I was right. It is soft."
Girls of Cincinnati: be warned!

Dawn Rochelle heads off to cancer camp. Rock and roll! She runs into Mike, the one who'd been all into Sandy the year before. Greg, the one who'd been AS YOU MIGHT REMEMBER both BEAU AND BROTHER to Dawn Rochelle, got a swimming scholarship to UCLA and is already in training. D.R. and Mike totes have fun, though this is no love connection. I am always so happy in YA books when it's not all LOVE THIS LOVE THAT so, um, good going, Lurlene?

When Dawn Rochelle gets home from camp, she's not feeling great. Oh noes! She's totes in denial, but a doctor hands over the bad news: NO MORE REMISSION. Agh! Poor Dawn Rochelle! She needs to have a bone marrow transplant, and luckily Rob is a suitable donor. Dawn Rochelle isn't sure she wants to go through all of it, so she thinks it over, finally declaring the titular I WANT TO LIVE! Remember, Dawn, you've got three more books, I bet you will!

Darcy's being a major wench, all WILL YOUR OPERATION AFFECT THE WEDDING? which, uh, PRIORITIES, Darcy! I hate you! It's a good thing you're engaged to a total jackhole; what a match made in Lurleneverse Heaven.

Dawn Rochelle gets better and worse, lather, rinse, repeat. Rob is totes frustrated!:
"I hate it! First, hope. Then, no hope. Then, hope again. And now...."
Man, don't you guys see what Darcy sees in him? He's soooo eloquent.

Actually, Rob confides in Dawn Rochelle's nurse that HE AND DARCY TOTALLY BROKE UP. Whoa! I mean, I would have said I saw it coming because Darcy's such a wench, but considering all his sexist joking, I figured it was meant to be. I guess only RICH awful people get punished in the Lurleneverse.

Rob goes back in to talk to Dawn Rochelle, who is sort of fading in and out AND SHE TOTALLY FLATLINES. We're in Rob's POV now and he's totally flashing back to all his SIGNIFICANT DAWN ROCHELLE MOMENTS. Luckily, they're able to bring Dawn Rochelle back, whew. Wouldn't it have sucked if the next three books were from Rob's POV? She's all WHERE WAS I WHERE DID YOU BRING ME BACK FROM and they're all DEATH which, um, okay, sort of! Hello, people, I've watched plenty of medical dramas in my day, flatlining isn't THAT big of a deal anymore. Whatever, I know this is an eighties book; things were definitely different then. For one thing, we hadn't logged hours of House MD!

And... that's it! That was literally THE ENTIRE PLOT. If you feel a bit ripped off, you are not alone, my friend. And this is as good a time as any to ponder why Lurlene's heroines almost always leave remission. All I hear about childhood leukemia is that the survival rate over five years is something like eighty-five percent, right? Sorry, why am I trying to introduce reality? I just never, ever learn!

Seriously, how did Dawn Rochelle, OF ALL PROTAGS, score FIVE FRIGGIN' BOOKS? Let's hope her next tome has one of those things I like to call a plot.


Madeline said...

I haven't read the recap of the first in the Dawn Rochelle series (I will, I promise!), but I'm having a hard time getting past the fact that her name is Dawn Rochelle.


ames said...

Her first name is Dawn and her last name is Rochelle, but I originally thought that was just what people called her, so I continue to do so. Dawn Rochelle is such a ridiculous name.

Gabrielle said...

Now I've remembered why I didn't reread the Dawn Rochelle books as often as I reread some of the other Lurlene books especially the One Last Wish ones. Porr Dawn Rochelle so boring and with a ridiculous name.

Dee said...

I think the model for the second version of the IWTL cover is Amber Barretto. She's done some YA book modeling in the past and was on that TNBC show, "Hang Time."

Dee said...

Er, let's try the link again:

Image Gallery

ames said...

Chaos_butterfly, I think you're right. She's adorable!

(Is it sad that I totes remember Hang Time?)

Fear Street said...

Those covers are killing me softly...

snappleaddict said...

I kind of love Darcy. I like to think that she doesn't really want Dawn in the wedding not because of the cancer, but because of that pube-like hair on Dawn's head. Cancer was a just a convenient excuse!