A Story About Cancer (With A Happy Ending) by India Desjardins and Marianne Ferrer

The Blurb On The Back:

”I think about everything I’ll miss if they tell me I’m going to die … my mum, my dad, my sister, cookies, TV shows I’ll never get to see the end of, the starry sky on a full moon, my grandparents, my grandpa’s lasagne, kissing Victor, Victor’s eyes, Victor’s voice, Victor’s smell, Victor’s hands … Victor.”

This is a story about cancer with a happy ending. It’s about life, love and, especially, hope.

For the past few years, a teenage girl has endured many hospital treatments, wearing a bandanna, people giving her ‘that look’, and her dad’s embarrassing jokes with the nurses.  But she’s also fallen in love.

Now she’s on her way to the hospital, where they’re going to tell her how much time she’s got to live.

A few years ago, author India Desjardins met a young girl with leukaemia who asked her to write a story about cancer with a happy ending.  This is that story. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

An unnamed 15-year-old girl is on her way to the hospital with her parents.  She has had leukaemia since she was 10-years-old and today she’s going to find out how long she has to live.  As she makes her way to the doctor’s office, she thinks about what it has been like to live with the disease – the effect of it on her parents and sister, her friendship with another cancer sufferer and, most importantly, her relationship with Victor – the boy she fell in love with – and she wonders if she’s going to have a happy ending …

India Desjardin’s YA graphic novel (illustrated by Marianne Ferrer and translated from French by Solange Ouellet) is a touching counterpoint to the ‘sick lit’ genre that focuses on the emotional and physical impact of cancer but also highlights that cancer is not always a death sentence and while I think the ending is a little manipulative, the illustrations are beautifully done and the story hangs together well.

I enjoyed the way Desjardin structures the story with the girl reflecting on her experience with cancer as she walks to her appointment.  I think it reads as emotionally true, particularly as she talks about her feelings and the guilt she felt as her parents try to keep her positive and strong and she begins to feel resentful (although I would have liked to see more about her sister than the off-the-cuff mention she gets to see whether there’s any resentment there that’s caused strain).  The romance element is a bit hokey, but it makes the narrator relatable and it’s sweetly depicted and I especially liked the illustrations for the scenes between the narrator and Victor, which are quite simple but cut through the schmaltz.  I also liked the colour palette used – particularly the faded greys for those who are unwell.

All in all I thought this was a decent graphic novel and a good counterpoint to the ‘sick lit’ genre.

A STORY ABOUT CANCER (WITH A HAPPY ENDING was released in the United Kingdom on 31st January 2019. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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