Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray
Release Date: March 18th 2014
Pages: Kindle, 336 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality

What I Liked

  • The story telling format.  Side Effects May Vary is told from both Alice and Harvey's perspective in both the present and the past.  So pre-remission and post remission.  The narration style really emphasizes the emotional roller coaster Alice goes through. 
  • The characters.  I wanted to hate Alice one chapter then root for her the next.  She thought her life was ending and then in the blink of an eye she is given her life back and doesn't know what to do.  She was so rough around the edges; it was hard not to feel the emotions even the angry confused ones.  Harvey was the good guy; he was the guy I could root for when I could not longer root for Alice.  
  • The love story.  It was not rainbow and butterflies instead it was fights and lots of feelings. For example:  "I know what this looked like.  It looked like I was using Harvey.  But here was the reality of the situations: the minute my life went from semi-permanent to most likely temporary, I decided to latch on to everything in my world that had always been permanent, and for me, Harvey was so permanent he was concrete" --Alice.    

    "I didn't want the easy kind of love.  I wanted the crazy love, the kind of love that created and destroyed all at the same time"- Alice   
  • The risks.  Never have I liked, then disliked, then liked a main character before.  Julie Murphy took risks with the plot, the characters, and even the ending.  

What I Didn't

  • Some of the feels.  While I do admire the rawness and beautiful imperfection in the characters, when I finished the book I was not left with warm fuzzies or full closure.  It is hard to describe my feelings after finishing the book. I was left thinking and feeling a range of emotions. This is why I would not recommend this book for everyone.  It is an story the sucks you in and throws you back out and if you are not prepared for some an imperfect ending to parallel the imperfect characters then this is not for you.  

Bottom Line

Side Effects May Vary is not a book for everyone.  It excels in its ability to convey the raw emotion and rather intense period that Alice had to face.  The emotions were harsh and honest; Murphy was able to blend the harshness with the heart warming in a well done story.
Copyright © 2014 The Quiet Concert
Template and Design by New Chapter Designs