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The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days

3.0 3
by Lisa Yee

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Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed. Then it's on to Harvard to fulfill the fantasy portrait of success that he and his parents have cultivated for the past four years. Four years of academic achievement. Four years of debate championships. Two years of dating the most popular girl in school. It was, literally,


Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed. Then it's on to Harvard to fulfill the fantasy portrait of success that he and his parents have cultivated for the past four years. Four years of academic achievement. Four years of debate championships. Two years of dating the most popular girl in school. It was, literally, everything his parents could have wanted. Everything they wanted for Higgs's older brother, Jeffrey, in fact.

But something's not right. And when Higgs's girlfriend presents him with a seemingly innocent hypothetical question about whether or not he'd give her a kidney... the exposed fault lines reach straight down to the foundations of his life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for The Kidney Hypothetical

"As Higgs's life unravels, every single one of his accepted beliefs has to be re-examined. And the miracle of this novel -- the wonderful, hilarious miracle of this novel -- is that Higgs actually does this. In a culture that insists that nothing matters more than appearance, Higgs actually looks at himself deeply and (and here is the killer in this novel) honestly." -- Gary Schmidt, author of The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now

"I love Lisa Yee's writing! You read along, smiling and chortling all the way, and then WHAM! she hits you in the heart. Watch out Higgs Boson, you're a Lisa Yee character. You've got seven days -- seven days to shed who you think you should be, and become the person you're meant to be." -- Amy Timberlake, author of One Came Home

"Lisa Yee has written the best worst week of school ever. Just when you think Higgs Boson Bing's life can't get any worse, it does, in increasingly funny and poignant ways." -- Emily Ecton, author of Project Jackalope

"Lisa Yee is one of those people everybody loves. At any moment, she can say something witty, completely off-the-wall wacky, or shockingly deep. Reading The Kidney Hypothetical was exactly like hanging out with Lisa -- wildly entertaining, emotionally affecting, and over far too soon." -- Jordan Sonnenblick, author of Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

"Lisa asks what it means to live an authentic life, and she does so brilliantly with humor, pathos, and truth." -- Kerry Madden, author of the Maggie Valley trilogy

Praise for Millicent Min, Girl Genius

"An utterly charming debut, as well as being the kind of tour de force that leaves one breathless." -- Boston Globe

*"[A] heartfelt story full of wit." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Funny, charming, and heartwarming, with something to say about the virtues of trust and truth telling, this deserves an A." -- Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The downward spiral of popular high-school senior Higgs Boson Bing, named after the elusive “God particle,” begins when a classmate asks him a hypothetical question about his willingness to donate a kidney to his girlfriend, Roo. Higgs’s hesitant answer does not bode well for his relationship with Roo, resulting in their breakup and a full-blown hate campaign against him. Now all of Higgs’s accolades—debate team captain, prom king, co-valedictorian, etc.—carry little weight, with someone at school bent on ruining his life with pranks, brutal criticisms, and more. Suddenly friendless, Higgs feels hopeless until he meets Monarch, a girl who has taken up residence in an abandoned Airstream trailer. Monarch doesn’t offer Higgs pity but rather hard questions that force him to rethink himself and his future. Alternately heart-wrenching and hilarious (“The Asian Jewish English American thing was a real stumper when it came to filling out my college applications,” Higgs reflects), Yee’s (Absolutely Maybe) portrait of a flawed superstar introduces a cast of vibrant, memorable characters and an eloquent message about following one’s desires. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Mar.)
VOYA, February 2015 (Vol. 37, No. 6) - Stacy Holbrook
Higgs Boson Bing has everything he could hope for—an early acceptance to Harvard, a popular girlfriend—and he is a shoo-in for the Senior of the Year award. He has everything his parents want for him. A week away from graduation, bits and pieces of Higgs’s life start to unravel, starting when his girlfriend asks him if he would give her one of his kidneys—the “kidney hypothetical.” Higgs does not answer the hypothetical, which ends his two-year relationship on the spot; before the end of the day, he is hated by every girl in school. The next day, Higgs finds that his Senior of the Year campaign posters are replaced by posters calling him Dinky Dick—a joke that follows Higgs throughout the week. Then there is an anonymous phone call to Harvard, calling into question the validity of his application. It all becomes too much for Higgs, until he meets a girl living in the woods. She calls herself Monarch and seems to have all of the freedom Higgs does not. As Higgs’s life unravels, Monarch helps him put things back together and become who he really wants to be. But Monarch has a few secrets of her own, and Higgs is far too wrapped up in his own problems to see who she really is. This funny, quick read hides a depth that readers will not see coming. Yee creates a memorable character in Higgs as someone to both love and hate, and the story is fast paced, with plenty of twists that will keep readers smiling all the way through. This is a delightful read for high school students who have felt the pressure to be someone they are not. Reviewer: Stacy Holbrook; Ages 15 to 18.
VOYA, February 2015 (Vol. 37, No. 6) - Victoria Quint
With quick, conceivable sequences of events, The Kidney Hypothetical holds readers’ interest and provides light entertainment. Chronicling the last seven days of a senior’s high school career sounds like a straightforward novel, but Yee manages to do it with several surprising plot twists and exciting escapades. Due to the relatively simple yet engaging writing style, girls in high school who favor realistic fiction are sure to be interested in The Kidney Hypothetical. Reviewer: Victoria Quint, Teen Reviewer; Ages 15 to 18.
Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
Higgs Bosom Bing is on top of the world. He is on his way to Harvard, has a beautiful girlfriend, and is a shoe-in for senior of the year—life is good. It all comes crashing down with one hypothetical question: would Higgs be willing to give a kidney to save his girlfriend? A week before graduation, Higgs gets dumped, loses his best friend, mocked at school, and his Harvard admittance is called into question. Every step of Higgs’ life has been guided by the shadow of his dead brother, Jeffrey. What should he do when everything starts spiraling out of control? Monarch, the archetypal manic pixie dream girl, shows up just in time to teach Higgs there is more to life than being perfect. With Monarch as his guide, Higgs embarks on a laundry list of petty crimes and silly pranks, eventually determining it’s time to start living for himself. Monarch serves mainly as a device to teach Higgs how to loosen up. Their relationship is somewhat forced and often unbelievable. Fans of John Green will enjoy this typical, yet somewhat enjoyable, novel. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr; Ages 16 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—It all began when Higgs Boson Bing's girlfriend asked if he would hypothetically give her a kidney. Until then, Higgs (named after the infamous God particle) had everything: great grades, a popular girlfriend, and an acceptance letter to Harvard. Now with only seven days until graduation, everything is falling apart. He immediately loses his girlfriend and his best friend; he learns that his teachers and classmates never really liked him; and even his acceptance to Harvard is called into question. Yee starts strong with Higgs's situation immediately spiraling out of control. The underlying issue of Higgs dealing with his older brother Jeffrey's death, and subsequently trying to live up to Jeffrey's achievements, adds substance. The story begins to suffer when Monarch, a manic pixie goth girl, shows up. She merely serves as a device to help Higgs see the error of his ways and loosen up a bit. After her arrival, the story becomes a bit unfocused. The hijinks that ensue with Higgs and Monarch creates a laundry list of plot elements that tend to detract rather than add. Fortunately, the author redeems herself with a hopeful, yet not happily-ever-after ending that, while expected, is still satisfying. This is a story that has a few missteps, but still gets a lot right.—Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Hudson Library & Historical Society, OH
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-12-10
A perfect, glowing ending to a stellar high school career veers off course when debate-team captain Higgs Boson flunks girlfriend Roo's easy question: If she needed a kidney, would he give her one?Yee turns her clever, insightful humor on one wounded family: There's the dentist dad, retired NASA scientist mom, Higgs, named after "the God particle, the missing link, the answer to all the questions of the universe"—and who could forget little sister Charlie? Well, pretty much everyone; tragically dead older brother Jeffrey is still eerily center stage despite Charlie's straight-A grades and Higgs Boson's acceptance to Harvard, the path Jeffrey was supposed to tread. (Next step? Dental school.) But while Higgs Boson may be the answer, he doesn't have the important-to-teens answer: "Roo's kidneys are fine and I'm not into hypotheticals" leads to an epic breakup, the loss of his best friend, troubles at school and home, and a chance encounter with an intriguing homeless girl wise enough to joke about his name. She forces the self-reflection and introspection Higgs has avoided; now, instead of the iconic happy, hazy final days of high school, he's "buying cigarettes for a tattooed stranger" and taking life-threatening risks. Yee captures the intensity of popularity measured in yearbook pages and the strength of genuine teen melodrama; Mom's "Robe of Depression" and Higgs' therapeutic garden add touching depth; ironic twists save the finale from predictability. Smart, funny-but-ruthless teens and self-absorbed, grieving adults prove to be enormously appealing. (Fiction. 13-18)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Lisa Yee's novels include Millicent Min, Girl Genius; Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time (an ALA Notable Book); the Bobby chapter book series, and most recently, Warp Speed. She is also the author of the American Girl books, Good Luck, Ivy, Aloha Kanani and Good Job, Kanani. Please visit her website at www.lisayee.com.

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The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
I dislike teen romance stories. BUT bonus points to the author for having the main character break up with his girlfriend in Chapter Two. :) At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book but I found the story written well and there was enough of a story line to keep me interested. The book is young YA level (reading and content). It is a short read but the story moves along at a good pace and it feels complete when you are done. The characters were well-rounded but parts of the plot seemed a bit unrealistic- Higgs gives up going to Harvard?!? The story overall keeps the reader’s attention and there are some thoughtful moments between Higgs and Monarch (a girl Higgs befriends after he broke up with his girlfriend). There wasn’t the WOW factor for me in the story to say run to the bookstore to buy it, but it is definitely worth a read. *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And really not adult. Most kidney must best be from a blood relative for best match sometimes you need a second one if you got one while still a child