Monday, November 18, 2019

Cursed - a Teen Girl Fights the Pain of a Chronic Illness Amid Her Parents' Divorce and an Unfriendly New School (but she has an awesome Lesbian sister)



Cursed By Karol Ruth Silverstein

As if her parents' divorce and sister's departure for college weren't bad enough, fourteen-year-old Ricky Bloom has just been diagnosed with a life-changing chronic illness. Her days consist of cursing everyone out, skipping school--which has become a nightmare--daydreaming about her crush, Julio, and trying to keep her parents from realizing just how bad things are. But she can't keep her ruse up forever.

Ricky's afraid, angry, alone, and one suspension away from repeating ninth grade when she realizes: she can't be held back. She'll do whatever it takes to move forward--even if it means changing the person she's become. Lured out of her funk by a quirky classmate, Oliver, who's been there too, Ricky's porcupine exterior begins to shed some spines. Maybe asking for help isn't the worst thing in the world. Maybe accepting circumstances doesn't mean giving up.
Normally, a sister or best-friend being Queer (and wonderful) isn't my first choice to spotlight on this blog, but Cursed is exceptional in so many ways.

It's powerful – an #OwnVoices YA about chronic illness - chronic pain - and it's real in a way afternoon specials never were.

It's thoughtful in the whole exploration of Ricky's cursing, and while there are plenty of curse words used in the novel, it really gets into the power of words as both a coping mechanism, and a tool (for both bad and good.)

It's hopeful in a real way -- there's no miracle 'cure' and the character knows this. That's part of what's so difficult for her, but it's a part of the book that makes it practically sing to those of us who have had chronic illnesses for which we were told there was no cure. (It's painful. It's shitty. It's completely out of your control but you have to be a teenager and deal with both challenges at the same time.)

It resonates with our shared humanity - I didn't have what Ricky (or the author, my friend Karol) had, but when I was 13, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (painful. shitty, completely out of my control...) I've read a lot of YA and middle grade, but this is the first time that part of me felt seen. Heard.

It's retroactive, but this book healed my inner teen a bit.

The one who would have loved this book so much.

And hey, just like Ricky, I had an awesome queer sibling, too. (But I didn't know that for years to come.)

But this isn't about me, it's about Cursed. An amazing novel by my friend Karol Ruth Silverstein.

It was even a Junior Library Guild selection! I can't recommend it highly enough.

Add your review of "Cursed" in comments!


2 comments:

Karol Ruth Silverstein said...

Thanks so much for highlighting CURSED Lee! Your kind words and glowing review mean the world to me.

CS Perryess said...

Fabulous book. Fabulous author. Thanks, Lee, for covering CURSED.