Swanson, Julie A.
|Genre||Novel for Young Adults (217 pp.)|
|Keywords||Adolescence, Cancer, Caregivers, Communication, Death and Dying, Disease and Health, Family Relationships, Father-Daughter Relationship, Grief, Illness and the Family, Love, Mother-Daughter Relationship, Mourning, Pain, Suffering|
The summer before her senior year of high school Julie Weiczynkowski qualifies for the Olympic developmental program's regional soccer team. She has every reason to believe she will be recruited by coaches from the best college teams in the country. But her elation is short-lived; the very day she returns home from soccer camp, she learns that her father has untreatable pancreatic cancer.
The story of that summer, told in Julie's journal entries, gives us a close-up look at her own stages of accommodation, and at the skills and strategies she develops to cope with her own grief, to support her mother, and to help care for her father. Each person in the family--mother, grandmother, siblings, and uncles--has a different perspective on and reaction to the crisis. Julie finds herself looking at the rest of her life as if through the wrong end of a telescope, and finds herself alienated from the boy who has been her best friend and support in high school.
The hospice workers who come to help her parents, though she finds their presence invasive, teach her a good deal about what dying looks like and how to bear with the one who is suffering. She travels a painful learning curve to arrive at a place of acceptance, claiming her life after her father's death, and reclaiming a friendship that matters to her on new terms.
An unusually competent first novel, this story provides a convincing chronicle of growth and coming of age through loss. Julie's voice is lively and her emotional responses complex and sometimes surprising. The descriptions of the changes her father goes through and of his visible losses and suffering are told with authenticity, boldness, and accuracy.
Julie's relationship with her mother is less well developed than with her father, though toward the end we see ways in which grief opens new avenues of possibility between them. The boyfriend is a delightful character, though a little too flawless. A good read and a good book for engaging young people in conversation about the course of cancer treatment, hospice, death, and grief.
|Place Published||Grand Rapids, Mich.|
|Annotated by||McEntyre, Marilyn Chandler|
|Date of Entry||05/10/04|