Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: Dessert First

Dessert First
Dean Gloster
Expected publication: September 2, 2016
Upbeat--that's Kat, the girl in the family who everyone turns to when things get difficult. Especially now, when her beloved younger brother Beep is in his second leukemia relapse, and a bone marrow transplant from Kat may be his only chance.
But Kat's worried that she and her bone marrow may not be up to the task: She can't even complete homework, and she's facing other rejection--lost friendships, a lost spot on the soccer team, and lots of heartache from her crush on her former best friend, Evan. Kat doesn't know if her bone marrow will save Beep, or whether she can save herself, let alone keep her promise to Beep that she'll enjoy life and always eat dessert first. - from Goodreads

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

Kat is not an easy character to like.  She has some serious anger and attitude issues.  She's extremely sarcastic.  She constantly complains (like every other page) that she "can't do" her homework and is subsequently failing most of her classes.  But she finds time to analyze every word said and gesture made by her best friend (and biggest crush) Evan.  And spend literally hours each night flirting, emailing and Skyping with a teenage boy also suffering from cancer, like her brother Beep.  Sometimes her priorities were a little skewed, but in a way, that made her a typical teenager; unfortunately, it also made the story difficult to read at times.

But Kat has a lot of serious things going on in her life.  She is depressed.  Her brother's cancer has returned, and although she is just 16, she takes a lead role in his treatment.  She visits him in the hospital, runs a website devoted to her brother's story, and is his closest match for a bone marrow transplant.  She does all of this without a lot of support from her parents - her mother has an anxiety disorder and her father is constantly working.  I felt bad for Kat that she had to take on a parental role, on top of all her other problems, but I loved the way she loves her brother and is willing to do anything she can for him.  Kat's relationship with her sister started to deteriorate with her brother's illness, and I enjoyed the later growth between the two sisters.

Kat doesn't have many friends, due to some vaguely discussed issue from the previous school year, and she is the target of some bullies.  It's kind of disgusting the things that the other girls say to her, especially about her brother.  It's hard to believe that anyone could be so cruel, but on the other hand, teenagers can be really terrible to each other.

The author also handled the medical information in a great way.  It was clear he knew the subject, and although it was sometimes hard to read about cancer and its treatments and side effects, it made the story richer.

3.5 stars: A quick read that I think a lot of teenagers will be able to find something to relate to within its pages.

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