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 clich├ęs 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!