Side Effects May Vary, by Julie Murphy

What if you'd been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?"

15728577Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
HarperCollins/ Balzer+Bray
Release Date: March 18th, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch-nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she's said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?

It comes as no surprise to me that so many people hated this book. After all, the protagonist is awful. She's scheming, manipulative, and all around just a terrible little bitch.

... And I loved it.

Honestly, say what you want about Alice's characterization, but I thought it was absolute perfection. I mean, let's be real for a second: if I was in her shoes, I probably would have done the same thing. Call me a bitch, but it's true. If I knew I had an "expiration date", I would do all of the petty things I never had the guts to do while I was healthy. And believe me, I have a laundry list.

I also know what it's like to want to distance yourself from those around you when your time is limited, because I've experienced it by proxy. I had a best friend growing up that was terminally ill. Every time he would slip back into that uncertain, unhealthy stage, he would sabotage. Everyone and everything. Once he fell into that place where living wasn't a guarantee (and that happened quite a few times), he didn't care. It was easier to push everyone away than to try and maintain relationships with people who would only hurt once he was gone.

 “My whole body finally connected the dots, and I realized that even if we were never together, she’d ruined me and I’d never feel that way about anyone again.”

Alice and Harvey's relationship, while painful and toxic, was completely realistic and almost too much for me to read. I empathized with Harvey's point-of-view because I've been in his shoes. I've been that person for someone, which simultaneously made this book so amazing and so terrible. Many people say Harvey is a pushover, but I saw it differently. When you love someone, regardless of how awful they become, you would still give them your heart, even if it meant you had to bleed to death in the process.

So I completely understand why Alice and Harvey made the decisions they did throughout Side Effects May Vary. I certainly didn't like them, but I understood them, which made all the difference while reading this book.

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