Friday, January 16, 2009

Ames reads, Ames snores, or One Last Wish: Someone Dies, Someone Lives

I hope you fine folks are in the mood for some boring, because boring is what I bring you! Like OLW: Mourning Song, OLW: Someone Dies, Someone Lives (1992) could function both as a doorstop AND a sleep aid. Oh, and a book too.

Let's get on with it!



I love how Katie's all "WHAT?" Also that is a daring neckline for someone post-HEART TRANSPLANT.

Oh but look at me, getting ahead of myself.

The book USED to look like this. My copy still does.

I find the shape of Josh's body very strange. Look how it goes straight down and all out to the side, with no waist at all. WTF. His shirt is also bizarrely large, and his shorts seem to be hovering in front of him. Honestly the whole thing looks like he's standing behind a cardboard cutout of clothes, and not wearing clothes at all. WTF. I remembered this really bothered me as a kid. Clearly it still bothers me now!

Would you like to know what it's about? I can help you there too!
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.

Katie O'Roark feels miserable, even though she knows she's incredibly lucky to have received an anonymous gift. Still, the money can't but her a new heart or bring her back to her track-star days. When a donor is found with a compatible heart, Katie undergoes transplant surgery. While recuperating, she meets Josh Martel and senses an immediate connection. When Katie decides to start training to attain her dream of running again, Josh helps her meet the difficult challenge.

Will Katie find the strength physically and emotionally to live to become a winner again?


Hey, you guys. Are we alone? Do you promise not to tell anyone? I have a secret. Like FOR MANY YEARS there's this dude character who has shown up in many of the projects I've worked on. I know other writers who do this too. Anyways, I think he's finally found a place, so, whatever, dude, if I ever finish that book you will be freed! My point is, though, that this dude's name has always been JOSH MARTEL and I had no idea where I got that, but I don't know where I get MOST of my names (except for the ones I name after specific people) so I never thought much of it... until I picked up this book. Yes, my friends, I stole a name from LURLENE McDANIEL and just KEPT GOING. I guess when I read this at fourteen I was blown away by him or something.

This is almost as bad as the time I realized I'd ripped off dialogue from Chicago Hope.

So the book opens with the One Last Wish letter (you can look it up here if you want to read it) to Katie, a former track star, sick at home because she has cardiomyopathy and needs a heart transplant. I learned about that initially not from Chicago Hope mind you but from Ann M. Martin's With You and Without You which is a book I thought was really stellar as a kid but I wasn't so crazy about during my adult reread. Hmmm, what does THAT remind me of? At least there wasn't a metric shit-ton of judgeypants in Martin's book.

Anyways, Katie is dying, basically. This makes everyone sad! Her friend Melody might need to cool it on the histrionics though:
"I just can't believe this is happening to you," Melody wailed. "How will the track team manage without you next spring?"
Way to keep your eye on priorities, Melody! If Katie died that would probably throw off your whole effing season, huh?

So abruptly we meet the aforementioned Josh Martel and his Gramps who I will picture as Wilf from Series 4 of Doctor Who because there is no finer Gramps in the land!

They're going to see Josh's brother Aaron play in a U of Michigan football game. Apparently their mascot is the Wolverine:

We learn through a bunch of heavy-handed exposition that Josh and Aaron's parents are terrible, so when Aaron got into college in Ann Arbor, Josh came with him and moved in with nearby Gramps. Uh, if your parents are that bad, shouldn't you have done this a little sooner?

So the football game is all footbally, and then Aaron just totes FALLS OVER AND COLLAPSES. PEOPLE FREAK! CHAOS! Well, not really. He just gets taken to the hospital. Josh and Gramps go too.

Like previous doctors in the Lurleneverse, Aaron's displays a real rapport with people:
"What's wrong? How's Aaron?"

Dr. Wright put his hand on Josh's shoulder. "Your brother's dead, son."
So you guys TOTALLY know what's gonna happen, right?

CUT TO: Katie's special transplant beeper goes off. Heart time! HEY YOU GUYS I WONDER WHERE THAT HEART IS FROM DON'T YOU.

So Katie gets the transplant and survives! Hurrah! She's immediately all WHEN DO I GET TO RUN AGAIN? which, um, would not exactly be my number one concern, lady. I mean, I guess it's hard to empathize when your major passion in life would lead you to be more like HEY WHEN CAN I SIT ON MY ASS AND MARATHON A LOT OF TELEVISION AGAIN and then they'd say LIKE NOW and you'd be all OMG GOOD BECAUSE I HAVE A LOT TO CATCH UP ON.

Josh is having some issues dealing with his brother's death, which is totally normal and all! Gramps isn't gonna stand for moping around, though. He tells Josh he'd better get to living!

So Katie's dad is a sports columnist, but he also uses his column to talk about Katie all the time. Man, I hate that crap. A personal blog is one thing but I totally had to unsubscribe from some media newsletter because this dude only talked about his daughter and his fiancee and ugghhhh I don't care, dude. Anyway, he's all waxing rhapsodic about this nameless donor who gave a heart to beloved little Katie, and Josh reads the column and is all OMGGGGGG THAT IS MY BROTHER'S HEART! To be fair I would totes react the same way.

So Katie is well enough to call her BFF Melody:
The moment she said hello, Melody burst into tears. "I can't believe it's you."
Man, Melody is UNHINGED. Someone get that girl some help.

So Josh goes to the hospital to try to see Katie, but she isn't allowed visitors yet. CREEPY STALKING!

Katie meets with her physical therapist Barry. She hits him up for permission to run, and he says he won't talk her out of it. He tells her about the Transplant Olympics, which makes her think he's making some sort of Special Olympics joke, but - just like the Special Olympics - the Transplant Olympics are real! This year (the book's year, not our real life year) they are held in L.A. on the UCLA campus. Oh good, the Westside again!

Katie's mom is all OH HELL NO YOU ARE NOT RUNNING OR COMPETING OR ANYTHING ALSO THAT IS EXPENSIVE. Katie brings up her OLW money but apparently the money was just an excuse for Katie not to get to run. I think if I had a kid who'd just had a heart transplant I would also likely vote for NO RUNNING OR FUN too. During this fight Katie gets a headache, which in most lands would just mean, uh, yelling and getting yelled at makes your head hurt. However, this is the Lurleneverse which means REJECTION!!!!

So Josh is still all Mopey McGee. While I love Gramps (or at least the version of him I've invented) I don't know why he's all CHEER THE EFF UP SON because I don't even LIKE my brother very much and I would be depressed for years if he died! Anyways, Josh thinks he's got a solution to become happy again!:
He could touch Katie O'Roark before she died. Not in a secondhand way, as he'd been doing so far [WHAT DOES THAT MEAN], but in the flesh, with his own hands.
I know it's tough because there are so many options, but this might just be the creepiest thing expressed thus far in the Lurleneverse. What do you guys think?

OK so creepy as all hell Josh goes to the hospital and tells a nurse he's doing a report on the ICU and has to go in. SO SHE'S JUST LIKE OK THAT'S FINE. This nurse is so shitty with rules and regulations she must have just left Seattle Grace or something. When Idiot Nurse sees Josh all starey-eyed at Katie, she's all I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO THAT'S YOUR GIRLFRIEND HUH and he's all OH YEAH. Cahhhreeeeeeepy.

Katie's all drugged up and rejectiony but she sees Josh. However she thinks he's a dream or a vision or some kind of acid trip instead of the stalkery effed up freako he actually is. However, she does get better.
At least, she could have visitors--Melody had been the first. She'd come the night before and cried the whole time she visited.

"I can't believe you're actually all right," Melody had said between sobs. "I never thought I was going to see you again. First you were sick, then dying, then the operation... and now... now you're alive and beautiful. Oh, Katie, it's a miracle!"
Oh, Melody, it's a miracle you haven't offed yourself yet! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

So Katie's milling about the hospital and sees Josh, the man of her dreams the stalkery boy! They just happen to go to the same school, OF COURSE. Also Katie thinks she's hot! Also Josh is totally YOU'VE GOT MY DEAD BROTHER'S HEART so Katie lets him listen to it and he actually says "Hey, bro."

Katie continues to improve and is finally sent home! On the way out, her physical therapist Barry "offers up the Vulcan peace sign, '"Live long and prosper."'" I know that punctuation is effing nuts but that's Lurlene's fault and not mine.

So Katie tells Melody she's going to run again. Melody reacts predictably:
Melody drew back, her eyes wide. "Are you serious? How can you?"
Katie overhears her parents fighting because her mom is overprotective and her dad, well, isn't. I wish there was a mom in the Lurleneverse who wasn't a wench in one way or another! Also, I'm sorry, KATIE JUST HAD A FUCKING HEART TRANSPLANT. I understand quality of life but I hardly think worrying someone shouldn't run track and field actually qualifies someone for wenchiness.

Katie decides because of this, she will train in secret for the Transplant Olympics. If I had a health issue that might kill me, I doubt I would partake in activity that would be extremely risky IN SECRECY. Katie claims she is following the diet and exercise program laid out for her by Spock Barry, so, who knows. I am totally on your side, Katie's mom!

So Katie has her next checkup and everything's perfect! Of course it is. Katie brings up the Transplant Olympics and the doctor gets all P.R.ish about them in front of Katie's mom, who is furious. The fight continues at home, where Katie reveals she will use some of the OLW money for everyone to go. Katie's mom is like, hey, what about all your medical bills, do you know it will cost your dad and I $10k a year to keep you alive? which is, like, the meanest fucking thing a parent can say to their kid WHO ALMOST DIED. She apologizes, but HOLY FUCK. I totally want to call my mom and hug her right now. Katie's mom, we are no longer on good terms.

So Katie's mom realizes the error of her ways and says, yes, Katie can use the money for the Transplant Games. She wants it to be her, her parents, Josh, and Gramps. (Later on she mentions Melody too but apparently Melody couldn't go. I assume it's because she's busy stocking up on Kleenex and albums by Morrissey.) Within this exchange Katie makes a joke about "Siamese twins" like UM the correct term has been conjoined for awhile, Lurlene!

So Katie, her parents, and Josh all go to L.A. While there Katie and Josh hang out a lot OH YOUNG LOVE and Josh mentions Katie's determination to make all of this happen.
"Daddy says it's nothing but Irish bullheadedness and that it's a very unfeminine trait." She tipped her chin upward and grinned. "Maybe he's right."
WTF! Her dad who is proud of having a jock for a daughter is suddenly a sexist jackhole? GREAT. Katie is the only semi-sane and -tolerable one in the whole family.

So there's a FIESTA! which everyone totally treats like some prom, and by everyone I mean Josh and Katie, and the parents, who are all slow-dancey and lovey-dovey. Katie and Josh sneak off so they can talk about Josh's wrecked homelife and youth, because that's what all kids do when they have time to themselves after a dance!
"Both my parents are alcoholics." He took a long, shuddering breath. "Pop beat up on Mom all the time."

Horrified, Katie asked, "You and Aaron too?"

"No--just her. Over the years I lost all respect for her because she wouldn't leave him, not even now, when she can."
Uh, Josh, way to take too lightly what abusive relationships are actually like, how they involve emotional/mental abuse and not just physical, how women may not have the resources to strike out on their own, and if their children are not being abused how they may believe their abusive partner's income makes the kids' lives better than if they took off without enough money. I definitely think the blaming of A BEATEN WOMAN is the grossest thing I've seen in any of these books, except for perhaps all that crotch-tightening talk. No. It's worse. Geez, Lurlene. WHY DO YOU HATE WOMEN?

Of course there's a race, and of course even though there are seasoned adult athletes, Katie wins and catches the eye of some college track dude (you know, as a potential student, not like in a pervy way). Hurrah! When Katie gets home, to thank Josh for giving her a heart-shaped locket (uh, weird) she makes him a scrapbook all about Aaron, which is actually quite a thoughtful gift. When Katie asks if he likes it:
To answer her, he put the book aside, took her in his arms, and kissed her with all the feeling he had stored up and locked away in his heart throughout his lifetime.
WHAAAAT! Please, dudes, don't ever try to kiss me with all of your repressed memories!

So I totally thought the book was basically OVER but this is the Lurleneverse, so Katie gets the flu which is SUPER BAD (not SUPERBAD) because of all the immune suppressants she's on because of the transplant. She is TOTALLY DYING! But then Josh goes outside and sees a plant fighting for life, and just knows that since that plant can make it, so can Katie. He goes inside and tells Katie's parents this. THEN THE BOOK ENDS.


I think Josh pops up in one of those later OLW books so PERHAPS WE WILL FIND OUT. Geez, guys, I apologize for the utter lameness of this book. I only hope my next escapade will bring us more excitement and adventure.


Steph said...

HAHA, I actually remember liking this series.

Nice recap.


Katy said...

Oh noes, With You or Without You doesn't stand up to an adult reread? I loved that book as a kid, I mean LOOOOOVED it, and used it as justification to myself that Ann M. Martin was actually a pretty good writer when the BSC series went to crap. (After, like, book six.)

I totally remember this book, down to the plant metaphor at the end.

ames said...

Katy, it's still a sweet story but it's not at all well-written like I remember, and it's all kind of heavy-handed, severe, and too fast. I get that she was trying to cover how the family's life changed but, I don't know. I guess it's still a fine book for kids but it's not one I treasure now.

I remember Slam Book being really good; I wonder if that holds up at all.

zanne said...

I loved the One Last Wish books. There is one called Reach for Tomorrow which is the only Lurlene book I have not read, where Katie and Josh are working at Jenny House. Have you read that one? My library claims to have this book in stock, but I could not find it anywhere when I went to look.

Oh, I would LOVE to read Slam Book again. That book was so awesome, although it did freak me out a little when I read it. I had just never read anything like it before when I was that age.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I totes imagined the second hand thing as a long extendable plastic arm/hand that he reached through the door and stroked her with at night.
I think that says more about me than Lurlene, but you're right man, that whole phrasing is whack.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're back. My life was so incomplete without the Lurlene goodness.

I think Katie shows up as a counselor at the sick kids camp.

Lauren said...

This is my favorite blog ever.

I'm so sad that I remember this book being GREAT, and now I don't know what was wrong with my younger self.

meredith said...

I'm horrified by Josh! Second hand touching? WHat does that MEAN? Ew.

PS First a Life on Mars reference, and now Dr Who?! I think I'm in love!

Tiny Pants said...

Honestly, I would read this even if you just described the covers, 'cause this one was freakin' hilarious.

Also AHHHH Slam Book was SCARY.

nikki said...

Yeah! This was my favorite Lurlene book when I was a kid!

Welcome back by the way. I just linked your blog to mine.