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Side Effects

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Overview

As if it doesn't suck enough to have cancer, practically every time you pick up books or see movies where characters get sick, you know they'll be dead by the last scene. In reality, kids get all kinds of cancers, go through unspeakable torture and painful treatments, but walk away fine in the end. From the acclaimed author of The Girls and Poison Ivy, Side Effects is about the pain, fear, and unlikely comedy of 15-year-old Izzy's journey, told in her own powerful and authentic voice. It is Izzy's story—screams ...

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Side Effects

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Overview

As if it doesn't suck enough to have cancer, practically every time you pick up books or see movies where characters get sick, you know they'll be dead by the last scene. In reality, kids get all kinds of cancers, go through unspeakable torture and painful treatments, but walk away fine in the end. From the acclaimed author of The Girls and Poison Ivy, Side Effects is about the pain, fear, and unlikely comedy of 15-year-old Izzy's journey, told in her own powerful and authentic voice. It is Izzy's story—screams and all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At once acerbic and warm-hearted, Koss's (The Girls) novel offers a first-person account of a 14-year-old's grueling ordeal after she is diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma. In an introductory note, the author remarks that many "kids get all kinds of cancers, go through unspeakable torture and painful treatments, but walk away fine in the end." Though Koss lets readers know in advance that Izzy will pull through, the teen's candid, often comical narrative will involve them deeply in her adjustment to the drastic changes that come with her illness and treatment. Often sarcastic and glib, Izzy, diagnosed in the first chapter, delves into the details of her chemotherapy and its devastating side effects, including hair loss, mouth sores, rashes and shooting arm pain. ("Was it necessary that I have every possible side effect from chemotherapy? Couldn't I just skip a few?" she wonders.) When Izzy returns to school, she uses humor to cope with her peers' awkward, over-friendly attitude toward her, commenting that there was "something spooky and science-fictiony" about "all this smiling and nodding and helloing." Koss interjects many poignant moments, including Izzy's dread of continuing her "chemo nightmare." The teen's thoroughly likable and uplifting best friend plays an enormous role in helping Izzy to remain positive and avoid self-pity. This tale will certainly open readers' eyes to the tribulations of young cancer patients and how to offer support. Ages 11-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Cheri Stowers
Izzy, a tough-talking, churlish fifteen-year-old, is busy navigating the teenage world of phone calls to friends, flirting with the boys, and bullying her mom. Then suddenly her whole world spins out of control. It all begins one morning when she looks in the mirror and sees that her neck is swollen. Immediately she is rushed to the doctor, who confirms that she has lymphoma, a life-threatening illness. She is thrust into a world of "medical weirdness" complete with IVs, cold, sterile hospital regimes, and chemotherapy with its litany of horrific side effects. Izzy brings the reader up close and allows him/her to experience the gamut of emotions that assail her: fear, anger, confusion, and even laughter at times as she pulls out her pen and paper and creates caricatures of the life around her. Izzy shares what it's like to return to school. Some kids don't know what to say, others are sappy-friendly, and worst of all, her best friends are "dweebs," too. If only she could hibernate and escape all the weirdness. This book is a "straight shooter," telling it like it is, in honest, teen-talk language. Some readers may be offended by Izzy's foul language, others will find an instant connection. Either way, readers will come away with a new perspective on what it's like to experience a life-threatening illness. This book is an excellent resource for any parent, teacher, counselor, caregiver, student, etc., who wants to learn more about that place where no one wants to go; the world not only of illness and pain, but of courage and friendship, as seen through a teenager's eyes.
VOYA - Amanda MacGregor
Nearly fifteen-year-old Izzy's day starts out in its ordinary fashion. Her mother pokes her awake for school, but Izzy ignores her. When her mother returns for a second attack, a disgruntled Izzy stumbles into the bathroom. Then Izzy notices her swollen glands, thought to be lingering from a long-ago flu. Izzy soon finds out that she has lymphoma, and her whole life changes. Suddenly she is spending her days at the children's hospital, undergoing various tests and treatments. Her mother is a basket case, refusing to say "cancer," somehow thinking that "lymphoma" has a less ominous ring to it. Izzy copes with it all by losing herself in her drawing-always with a blue pen, preferably on lined notebook paper. This novel is not the typical kid-with-cancer book. Izzy is bitingly sarcastic, not even letting cancer dull her razor-sharp tongue. She swears, makes witty and morbid (although inappropriate, says her mother) jokes about the circumstances, and maintains a sense of humor about something that is difficult to find funny. She rarely falls prey to self-pity and has little patience for people getting overly upset about her situation. Koss successfully makes the reader squirm with discomfort as Izzy describes hair loss, vicious vomiting episodes, and the agonizing pain of chemotherapy. Izzy does not linger too much over the idea that she may die; in fact, the thought rarely enters her mind. Vibrant and authentic, Izzy's narrative voice is unique and refreshing, as is Koss's unforgiving look at a topic that too often has no happy ending.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-A problem novel that's nicely paced and easy to read. Ultra-normal teenager Izzy learns that she has stage IV Hodgkins lymphoma. She undergoes standard treatments, withstands her newfound pity-popularity at school, leans on her best friend, and grows in her understanding of her mother. She narrates with a relatively light, joke-cracking tone as her ballpoint pen doodles cartoon jibes at the things making her uncomfortable. Throughout, readers see how the teen's condition affects her loving family and supportive best friend. Reassured by the preface, they will have no fear of Izzy's recovery. Rather, the story focuses in great detail on her treatments and how she gets through them, holding out for a future in which she will have "long, braided hair" and a boyfriend who can deal with serious stuff like cancer. Readers witness every hospital visit, every injection-everything that goes in, and the color of what comes out (with some spectacular pukes). The book has realistically typical teenage characters and apparently solid research into various Children's Hospital patients and their treatments, but it's not too heavy, complex, or long.-Rhona Campbell, Chevy Chase Neighborhood Library, Washington, DC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hilarious and harrowing by turns, Koss tells the story of an artistic 14-year-old girl whose garden-variety life goes bizarre when she's diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Suddenly, she's dealing with the alien world of the hospital, while finding that her cancer has made her a social alien in high school. Not that she has much time for socializing; she's too busy throwing up from the chemotherapy and then too exhausted to care. The secondary characters, such as the heroine's constantly crying, yet there-for-her-daughter mom, her loyal and gallant best friend and her honest and irritated little brother, ring true, as does the gallows humor and dead-on observations about hospital life. And the panoply of reactions from the heroine's classmates as they cope with her cancer is simultaneously funny, anger inducing and astute. The plot is the situation-a girl contracts and is treated for the disease-and the happy ending is somewhat abrupt, but the telling is precisely voiced, funny and genuine, giving the reader a multifaceted look at a devastating experience. (Fiction. 11-15)
From the Publisher
“At once acerbic and warm-hearted, Koss’s novel offers a first-person account of a 14-year-old’s grueling ordeal. . . . Though Koss lets readers know in advance that Izzy will pull through, the teen’s candid, often comical narrative will involve them deeply in her adjustment to the drastic changes that come with her illness and treatment. . . . This tale will certainly open readers’ eyes to the tribulations of young cancer patients and how to offer support.”—Publishers Weekly

“Vibrant and authentic, Izzy’s narrative voice is unique and refreshing, as is Koss’s unforgiving look at a topic that too often has no happy ending.”—Voice of Youth Advocates

“A problem novel that’s nicely paced and easy to read. . . . The book has realistically typical teenage characters and apparently solid research into various Children’s Hospital patients and their treatments, but it’s not too heavy, complex, or long.”—School Library Journal

“Hilarious and harrowing by turns, Koss tells the story of an artistic 14-year-old girl whose garden-variety life goes bizarre when she's diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. . . . Precisely voiced, funny and genuine, giving the reader a multifaceted look at a devastating experience.”—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312602765
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 373,162
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Goldman Koss is the author of The Girls, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and Quick Picks selection, and Poison Ivy, called "fascinating and intriguing" by Publishers Weekly. She lives in Glendale, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

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(37)

4 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Hopeful Novel About Cancer

    Even though she's feeling great, her swollen glands force twelve year old Isabelle to visit her doctor who immediately sends to her Children's Hospital for CAT scans and biopsies. It turns out that she's got lymphoma, requiring a hospital stay and eight rounds of chemotherapy. Her hospital stay will be short, just for her first round of chemo, and then she'll get them on an outpatient basis. Her hospital roommate is Carrie, who has sickle cell and comes to the hospital only when it flares up. Carrie shows Isabelle the hospital ropes and introduces her to some of the kids who are there for sickle cell, leukemia, lymphoma and other diseases.

    Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss, author of The Girls and Poison Ivy, takes readers through the last six months of Isabelle's eighth grade year, detailing the chemo regimen and the side effects (nausea, hair loss, etc.). Readers live her life, reacting to her treatments, understanding her desire to sleep and skip school and be a lazy slug. More telling are the ways Isabelle and her family, friends and classmates react. Izzy tries to be her normal self, being as strong as she can be, cracking jokes. Her mother cries 24/7. He father quotes remission statistics success rates. Her Aunt Lucy is the only logical one, trying to treat Izzy the same as always. Her friend Kay is always by her side. However, some of her classmates are less understanding, creating a vulgar video mocking people with cancer. Koss even describes the various doctors, nurses and social workers, some honest, some treating patients like babies, some indifferent.

    Koss's writing is direct. She doesn't white wash anything, yet she isn't negative or depressing. Side Effects, despite the subject, is hopeful. Regardless of whether or not you know anyone with cancer, you can relate to Izzy. You love her for herself. You sympathize with the agony that her parents are enduring. You admire Kay. It can't be easy watching Izzy's hair fall out, yet Kay stands by her friend. You might think it odd that there's a love interest in such a book, but it is there and adds to the hopeful attitude.

    I liked Koss' writing from having read The Girls. I like it as much now for having tackled such a difficult subject so effectively, for having produced a novel that teens with cancer or without it can read, understand, relate to and enjoy. Yes..even enjoy.

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2009

    Amazing

    I loved this book. I have re-read it so many times I've lost count. The way Izzy copes with her cancer with a "teenage outlook." She is annoyed that people treat her like a child. And Izzy doesn't want to be known as the "Cancer Kid." I would recomend this book to anyone.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2008

    The Best Book EVER!!!

    OMG!!! This book was absolutley AMAZING!! This is my favorite book. I was sooo sad when I finished it cuz its super short. But I'm definatley gonna read it again!!! AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING!!! READ IT!!!!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2009

    Pretty Good

    This book was a little different than I had anticipated. I was expecting something a little humourous yet it was still more sad than expected. But, once again, it was a book I couldn't put down. I actually learned a lot from this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2007

    Amazing.

    I'm 16 years old, and my boyfriend was just diagnosed with cancer. Most of the time I don't even know what to do and then I started reading this. It reminded me so much of what I am going through now and it helped a lot.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    i read this book 4 times and i love it!!

    i read this book 4 times and i love it!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    GOOD BOOK

    The book Side Effects is a really good book and worth reading over again. It¿s a suspenseful book that will keep you from putting the book down. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes sad, interesting and most of all funny kind of books. Also because it might mean something to people, because it¿s about a girl that has cancer and is very daring and adventurous. Her friend Kay supports her in many things. Another reason I would recommend this book to people because it¿s a ¿must read book¿ when I first saw it , it didn¿t look that good but when I started reading it I could not put it down. As I said. It¿s a meaningful book that will make you realize that you should appreciate your life and your friends and family in it. Also I would recommend it because I would say its one of the best books I have read so far and that I would read it over again. And I usually don¿t read books over again because books aren¿t really my thing. But Side Effects is a really good book that I would, read over again. If your the age 13 to 100 this is a good book to read. Any age could read this book and its very easy to understand. The main character is really funny to that¿s another reason I would recommend this to someone. As you can see this is a very good book and its recommended to ages 12 to 100. I hope you enjoy the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    ADICTED TO AMY GOLDMAN KOSS!

    Ahhhhhhhhh love her

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    Great Summer Read!

    This book was so inspiring, I read it twice. It's a great drama about overcoming the obstacles that life throws at you. 15 year old Izzy (Isabelle) gets diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of cancer, after noticing that she has swollen glands. Her life switched in an instant from worrying about missing a math test to worrying about whether or not she will live or die. Izzy's character is so real in that just looking at the cover, a girl in cargo pants, you know she's relatable. She is also incredibly sarcastic and makes you giggle a little every time she says a wise comment. It's hard to believe that she is only 15 because Amy Goldman Koss creates her to be so relatable to so many different ages of readers. You learn about Izzy's love to draw, her crazy, anal mother, loving and brutaly honest brother, and rock of a father. Also, her best friend who pushes her to move past the bad, and keeps Izzy being herself. Even if she has to scream at Izzy to get out of bed for once. I really enjoyed this book because it inspired me that no matter what life throws my way, I can over come it and deal with it with a positive attitude. It showed me never to lose who I am, and that my family will be there for me, and be honest with me no matter what. Even if they get on my nerves, like Izzy's mom does to her often. I think that this book is a great summer read mainly because its a quick read. An average length book that just flies by with its riveting story line and fun characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2010

    A beautiful CANCER story and an EXCELLENT CANCER resource!

    I am super passionate about Childhood Cancer! So, when Amy Goldman Koss, who is on my Facebook friends list, posted that she was looking for people to review her book I did the "Horshack thing," "OOoooo! OOOOOooooo! OOOooooo! ME! ME! ME!"

    Now, I read the book in two days (yep, it's THAT good!) but it has taken me almost a month to get it here for my review! Thank you, Amy, for being so patient!

    On page two of Side Effects, 14-year-old Isabelle complains of a swollen gland that won't give her a break and her mom makes a doctor's appointment. Isabelle was annoyed that the stupid gland just never went down after having the flu a few weeks ago. And that's where her story begins....

    The "C" word! CANCER! Lymphoma to be exact.

    Not only is CANCER every mother's worst nightmare, it is every teen's worst nightmare...especially when your mom turns into a bumbling idiot at the mention of the word.

    "If the cancer didn't kill me, the ride to the hospital would. My mom's eyes were streaming tears and she was babbling in general."

    Izzy was usually annoyed, she was a teenager, it's what she did best. Izzy's indignant personality rarely fades as she and her best friend Kay try to stay one step ahead of this roller coaster that may just kill her. But when you are running on foot down the steep track with CANCER-on-wheels barreling down behind you going ten times faster, it may just be easier to lay down and die than try to beat it.

    Izzy makes her cancer diagnosis frightening, livable, somewhat doable, sometimes humorous, and oh so REAL! Who knew you could crush on someone, while he crushes back, all the while having poison pumped into your veins, together..how romantic. NOT!

    Having been virtually "in" the cancer world during my short stint as a Childhood Cancer Awareness Advocate through my blog its 4 the kids, I can say this book is a bright-side view of cancer but at the same time a painful peek into Izzy's world as she battles a monster bigger than she had ever imagined. While Izzy's story is real and raw, it is humorous but truthful.
    Not only would a child with a recent diagnosis benefit from the TOUGH HOPE throughout Izzy's journey, this book is a PHENOMENAL resource for the friends and family of a teen with cancer. Izzy's thoughts relay what she wishes her mom would say, what she wishes her best friend knew, what she hoped the boy she liked would not say. Everyone could benefit from reading this book...maybe people would acknowledge little bald heads instead of look away. Izzy would kick you if you were so rude!

    Goldman Koss did an amazing job of writing from inside the mind of her fictional Izzy. While I read I truly felt for her, wished I could clue her BFF in and hoped she would be OK. Izzy's thoughts are so vivid and the descriptions of her physical AND emotional side effects paint the painful picture of what cancer can do.

    I thank Amy for this poignant book that reveals the truths I know cancer patients would love to have their loved ones, doctors, nurses and BFFS know as they run from that coaster car that's breathing down their necks!

    Cancer is serious. It is horrific. 46 children are diagnosed with it EVERY school day! It's not a subject to make light of and Amy Goldman Koss gives this subject the respect and seriousness it deserves while twisting it with a bit of crass teenage wit.

    Thanks Amy! I hope hospitals buy oodles and oodles of this book for th

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

    Izzy wakes up one morning concerned because her glands are still swollen from a recent sickness--and she soon discovers that she has cancer. She's placed into a children's hospital where people come talk to her until she no longer hears what they're talking about. All she can do is concentrate on drawing. <BR/><BR/>Her mother is a basket case and Izzy is in shock. <BR/><BR/>Now her life has drastically changed. People who were her friends no longer talk to her and people she's never talked to are fake around her. She doesn't quite know how to react, but it's not with the anger her best friend feels. <BR/><BR/>Izzy goes though treatments: the pain, the puking, and the needles, but still never loses her sense of humor. <BR/><BR/>SIDE EFFECTS takes a deep look into the medical and emotional roller-coaster of cancer patients. With Izzy, you hear the knowledge first-hand, which makes you both laugh and cry.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2006

    Fun and Amusing

    I've already read this book (yay for library review clubs!) and I enjoyed it. The text was amusing, and I liked a lot of the dialougue. The book began to deteriorate around the end, though, and I was tempted to put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2013

    .

    Does anybody know how old izzy is???? Book is super great!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2013

    Question

    What age group is this book for?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2013

    AMAZING

    This is one of the best books I have read in a long time, I've read it so many times and it never gets boring. But just to warn you, there are a few curse words in here...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Awesome

    Luv it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

    Iamaperso Oneiewctio Onedirection11389

    This boook is so good its more th good its fannaminal

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2012

    2 1/2...

    Don't be fooled... this book isn't very funny.
    Overall,this was a decent book, a quick and easy read. I was fascinated by the cancer (not in a bad way...) and it WAS well-written. I just wasn't lovin' it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    Hunting grounds

    Goldclan hunting grounds.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    Awesome book

    Loved this book. Thank you amy goldman koss!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews

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