This was a new kind of story for me. Name a type of teenage issue and I’ve probably read about it. But I can honestly say, I’ve never read a book where one of the characters has Leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease as it’s referred to in the story.
Abby is your typical mean girl. She’s a beautiful cheerleader who runs with only the popular kids and is obsessed with looks. Anything less than perfection gets a sneer and a condescending remark from Abby and her band of BFFs. Her life is pretty much perfect, so when she develops a small rash she’s not overly concerned. Even when it starts to spread and other symptoms pop up, she never imagines it could be anything major.
And then she finally receives her diagnosis…Hansen’s Disease/aka Leprosy. All of a sudden her whole world is turned upside down. And she’s no longer one of the pretty people. Shipped off to a special facility for treatment, she starts to see that maybe looks aren’t everything.
I didn’t like Abby for much of this story. I thought she was a self-centered, mean little snot. But that’s okay. Because you don’t have to love a character. The point is that the author makes you feel SOMETHING about them.
Buy It Now: Confessions of a Teenage Leper
Everybody staring as you walk into the cafeteria. Nobody to sit with. Not-so-subtle whispers as you walk through the hallways. Names scribbled on bathroom walls. If you never experienced any of this in high school, consider yourself lucky. The teasing and bullying can be brutal.
Alice Franklin has always been somewhat lucky. Although not one of the most popular kids, she’s nonetheless always been accepted in the culture of her small town Texas high school. That begins to change after she’s rumored to have slept with two guys at a party. When one of them, Brandon who is also the star quarterback, dies in a car crash, everyone knows it’s because Alice was sending him harassing text messages. The rumor mill goes into full force and Alice is totally, completely on her own. The story is told from four points of view. Elaine is a self-professed popular, cute girl. Kelsie is Alice’s once upon a time best friend before popularity wins out over loyalty. Josh is Brandon’s best friend and was in the car when it crashed. And Kurt is a loner in his own way but somehow finds the courage to reach out to Alice. We don’t hear Alice’s voice until the very end, and what a voice it is!
This debut novel from Jennifer Mathieu is completely mind-blowing. It’s a relentless but honest look into small town and particularly high school dynamics. How do rumors get started? Why don’t people take the time to find out if a rumor is true? To what lengths will someone go to in order to protect their social standing? And what kind of inner strength does it take to survive something like this? There are many lessons to be learned about all of the above from this book. A word of caution: There are numerous scenes involving drinking and some sexual content so proceed with caution, although I think it’s completely appropriate for mature, older teens as the message within is so valuable.
Buy it Now: The Truth About Alice