'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: Side Effects May Vary

Julie Murphy’s stunning debut novel is rich in language and strong in storyline, with powerful characters that are placed in complex relationship issues. It is about living with dying, then re-learning to live. Its crowning glory is unconditional love and how it survives all the bombings it receives. Beautifully told, this moving story with its many layers it will be read in one sitting.

The story is told in a then-and-now sequence by the two main characters - Alice, and Harvey her best friend since childhood, who loves her more than life itself.

A month after Alice catches her mother with a lover, Alice is diagnosed with cancer. She has to live with dying. With nothing left to lose, she creates a bucket list and manipulates Harvey into assisting her in its execution. Denying all things associated with love and Harvey, Alice learns how selfish, cruel and destructive love can become when its expression is suppressed.

But life has many surprises and remission is one of them. Can Alice repair the fragile web that still ties her and Harvey together? And will giving him what he wants more than anything else, be enough to win back his trust and love?

Powerful, lyrical, and deeply moving, I was totally disassociated with everything around me while reading this book. This is an author who confesses to doing poorly at school, but wants the reader to know ‘that the path of dreams is flawed, and it is the beauty of flaws that make you’.

Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Penguin, $17.99 RRP
Publication Date: 26 March 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143571711
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction

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