Written for young adults by a volunteer in a children's cancer ward, the novel features an adolescent twin girl whose bone cancer separates her definitively from the active life she knew, and from the twin with whom she has lived her whole life in deep empathy. In the hospital she goes through a predictable period of adjustment when restlessness, loneliness, rage, and homesickness dominate. Eventually, though these feelings do not disappear, they are modified by the discovery of new forms of companionship that arise among those who share her confinement, fear, and recognition that the terms of her life have irrevocably changed. The camaraderie she experiences in the hospital teaches her both a new kind of friendship and new ways of understanding family relationship. The ending may disappoint some readers; several patients arrange a sexual encounter for a friend down the hall so she won't die without having been through that passage.


Alice Bach has worked in a children's cancer ward. The story pulls no punches; the various stages of accommodation, resistance, alienation, desolation, confusion, and triumph in the struggle with illness and hospitalization are treated with a blunt honesty. As in most coming-of-age stories, the point of view reflects predictable crises and fluctuations of an adolescent emotional life in which the ante has been dramatically raised by life-threatening illness. The ending seems slightly out of keeping with the rest of the story, but true enough to the adolescent focus on sex as a rite of passage. Compelling for both young adult and adult readers, and useful for focusing discussion about pediatric care and hospitalization.


Harper Collins Children's Books

Place Published

New York