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July 21, 2019

Two Books about Sick Children

by Susan Roberts

I try to stay away from books about sick children because I hate to see them suffer and somehow, I ended up reading two in a row.  Their illnesses are very different as is the outcome of the novels but I recommend both of them.

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The Wonder of Lost Causes by Nick Trout 

April 2019; William Morrow; 978-0062884305
audio, ebook, print (464 pages); coming of age
"Different doesn't mean abnormal. No one needs to feel embarrassed about being different... I should know.  But people get hung up on different. Sometimes it's all that they see."  (p58)

This heartwarming story is perfect for people who love small boys and dogs. Actually, it's a fantastic book for anyone. I usually avoid books with dogs on the cover but I won this book and wanted to give it a try. Wow -- I couldn't put it down once I started.  It was definitely wonderful to read about the bond between the boy and his dog.

Jasper is an 11-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis. He doesn't get to do all of the things other boys his age can do and has few friends. He is aware that he is getting sicker and really wants a dog for a companion. His mother, Kate, is a veterinarian who runs an animal shelter. She is totally overwhelmed in taking care of Jasper.  It takes a lot of time each day just to do his treatments and making sure that he is eating properly.   She feels that having a dog at home would be one more problem that would take time out of her day. Since there are only the two of them, Jasper and his mom have a great relationship but they both keep secrets from each other - especially about Jasper's health.  One day a scarred, mistreated wreck of a dog shows up at the shelter and Kate knows that he doesn't have a chance of being adopted by a family because he's too old and too ugly. Whistler forms an instantaneous bond with Jasper. Whistler never makes a sound, yet he speaks to Jasper in a myriad of mysterious ways and Jasper falls in love with Whistler and Whistler picks Jasper to be his owner. But how is he going to convince his mom that he communicates with Whistler and that he needs him for his own?

'Dogs choose us, not the other way around. '  (p 437)

This is a beautiful uplifting story about love and family and learning to live with disabilities. It's also a testament to how our lives can change if we have the unconditional love of an animal on a daily basis.

Buy The Wonder of Lost Causes at Amazon

Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer

April 2019; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250107459
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); domestic thriller
"I could tell by the way he looked at me with sadness and sympathy that he'd do everything and anything to make me well again. But there was a deep loss in that look, too. He was sure he'd lost me to her - to my mom. He feared she'd taken over, planted ideas in my head."  (p27)

I read so many early reviews of this new novel by D.J. Palmer, that I pre-ordered it from Amazon so that I could have it as soon as possible.  When it arrived, I picked it up to read the first chapter and finished reading it the next day.  I had to know the outcome of why Meghan was so sick.

This is a medical mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. It's also the story about a family in meltdown due to medical issues. I was sure several times during the book who was at fault - was it Meghan, her mom Becky or her dad Carl? Or was Meghan really sick with an unknown disease?

This novel is told in alternating chapters by Becky and Meghan. Becky has devoted the last several years trying to find out what's wrong with her once healthy and athletic daughter who is often too sick to get out of bed and go to school. She has taken her to numerous doctors in a variety of specialties and the tests that are done keep coming up negative - all of Meghan's test show nothing pointing to any medical problems. Meghan seems a bit overwhelmed by it too - she knows she is sick, she knows that her dad doesn't believe her and she just wants to feel good again but doesn't know how or why this is happening to her but the secrets that she is keeping also make her suspect. So the main question throughout the book is whether Meghan is really sick or is she making it all up? Is her mother being helpful or is she the reason that Meghan continues to be sick?  Doctors suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare behavioral disorder where the primary caretaker, typically the mother, seeks medical help for made-up symptoms of a child. Will the mystery be solved before Megan gets sicker?

This was a great suspense novel with several characters who really seemed to be the reason for Meghan's illnesses. Who is responsible and will Meghan be saved?

Buy Saving Meghan at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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