Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Name Game. Or, just trying not to give a future President a really terrible name.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child and I was asked what name we had picked out and I said we were going with Olivia. People looked at me strangely because back in 2005, you didn't hear a lot of Olivia's.

Then I had her and there were two others in the nursery at the same time and I was secretly glad because I don't want a weirdo, never-heard-of name for my kid. They'll go to school someday, they'll have jobs. Maybe they'll be a telemarketer or something that requires them to say their name a lot and I don't want people butchering it. Maybe they'll be President and you don't want a sissy name or something newscasters can't even pronounce.

My inspiration from her name came from the show Law & Order: SVU and I refuse to feel shame for that. I watched a LOT of it while pregnant and it's just a super pretty name.

Fast forward a couple of years and I find myself pregnant, this time with a boy. I knew what his name was going to be but I struggled with Jack versus Jackson. I have a thing about naming a child something you won't even call them. To me it's like, why bother? So if I liked Jack better, that's what he was going to be. But the longer my pregnancy went on I found I really preferred Jackson and he does, too as it turns out. He'll answer to Jack but every once in awhile he'll correct someone and say his name is JackSON. He really emphasizes it.

During my pregnancy with Penelope I realized people are ridiculously judgmental over names. Like, rudely so. They really hope you're naming your baby something weird so they can immediately criticize it. It's like the most exciting thing about someone you know having a baby, apparently. But I knew she was going to be a Penelope and for no real reason. I just really liked the name. I'm a little annoyed there is a Kardashian named Penelope but I can only hope over time they fade away and nobody will ask me if I used that as my inspiration because no, I did not. I just thought it sounded like a pretty name for a little old lady and I liked how it looked on paper.

When I had her all of the nurses and hospital staff absolutely loved it and kept commenting on what a great name.

I know, I'm an awesome name picker.

Now we have Fetus Four incubating, and that's literally what I've been calling it because I have no other name picked out. My early favorite was Eloise and I got some really strange looks and my dad said he'd call her Weezy. Which, is kind of hilarious and not a reason to not name a kid that because my dad has nicknames for us all so no matter what, this kid is bound to get a good one. Then I kind of liked Lucy. Matt liked Lucy more than Eloise but the more I thought about it, I wasn't sold. My mom mentioned Ophelia, and I really liked that one. Almost immediately. But Matt wasn't sold, and he said we should just do Lucy because it's easy to spell and we'd be done.

I need to mention here that I don't actually have any memory of consulting with him on Olivia or Jackson, I basically filled out the paperwork and that was that. With Penelope I told him it was the only name there was and he'd learn to spell it just fine over time.

So this time... why am I consulting? Why am I so wishy washy on a name? I'm 26 weeks along now and I feel like if I can do nothing else, I need to get a damn name for this baby.

I already told someone I was writing this blog post and they immediately asked if I was worried someone would "steal" my name. Um, nope? Because it's a name- thousands of kids will be born this year with the same exact name. I could care less. I don't feel weird about that kind of thing at all. I also don't really care when people offer me bits of criticism about the names.

So yes. We're basically down to Lucy or Ophelia. I wish my gut, which is never wrong, would kick in and tell me which way I should go.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles

Please, please pick this book up. Seriously. We all need this book in our life. 

A wry, witty account of what it is like to face death—and be restored to life.

After being diagnosed in her early 40s with metastatic melanoma—a "rapidly fatal" form of cancer—journalist and mother of two Mary Elizabeth Williams finds herself in a race against the clock. She takes a once-in-a-lifetime chance and joins a clinical trial for immunotherapy, a revolutionary drug regimen that trains the body to vanquish malignant cells. Astonishingly, her cancer disappears entirely in just a few weeks. But at the same time, her best friend embarks on a cancer journey of her own—with very different results. Williams's experiences as a patient and a medical test subject reveal with stark honesty what it takes to weather disease, the extraordinary new developments that are rewriting the rules of science—and the healing power of human connection.

I remember when my mom told me she had melanoma and she was going to be having surgery to remove it and then a skin graft to basically give her new skin in the area of the melanoma, I (like a really terrible daughter) assumed it would all be fine and it wasn't a big deal. It's not that I didn't take skin cancer seriously, but I am that person who just assumes this kind of stuff won't happen to MY parents (let alone me) and I really put a lot of faith that doctors know what they are doing and everything will be great. Fortunately for her, it did turn out OK but now that I've read more about melanoma and learned that she had not just melanoma but also all three skin cancers you can have and she has the gene which could be a genetic worry for my brother and I, (source) I am terrified. We spent out summers as little kids shirtless, sometimes naked, running around in the Florida sunshine. I am literally covered in moles and freckles, I've already had a suspicious one removed when I was in middle school, so the reality that I actually need to be extra cautious is drilled into my head. So long story short, as soon as I saw this as a book review option, I was all over it because it hits so close to home. 

It's a true story of Mary Elizabeth and her weirdo scab on her head she thought was just a nuisance but turned out to be a very deadly form of melanoma. She has the initial reaction that any of us would upon hearing we have cancer- we'd calmly finish what we were in the middle in, and then breakdown. Look at our children, freak out on the inside, and do whatever it was that we had to do to beat this. She does it with honestly, humor, real tears, and you find yourself relating to her as if she's your best friend. Throughout the book there is not just her real account of what surgery, post surgery, lingering pain, cancer treatments, and repeat is like, but she also talks about how people around you react and treat you. Sure, you get the pot pies and the lasagnas, but beyond that people fall into the "ignore it and it isn't a big deal" category, the "overly invasive, in your business" category, and then the "we have no idea what to do but we want to do something" category. I'm ashamed to say I was in the first with my mother and it's not because I didn't care, but because it was really the first time I had ever seen my mother in that light- scared, but trying not to be, so I felt like if I made a big deal out of it, it would scare her more, or stress her out. And frankly? I am terrified to lose my mom. I have friends who have lost theirs and they always tell me how awful it is, how I'll never be the same, and what a difference it makes in the rest of my life and none of that sounds like something I want to deal with. I really need my mom still. A lot. I can't even imagine what I would do if I couldn't call my mom to vent or to ask a question or to ask for help. She's literally the only person who never makes me feel stupid when I don't know something, or make me feel bad when I need help. So as I'm reading this book, I was emotional and terrified that this could have been, could still be, the reality for my mom and I. 

I also liked how the book gives us actual history and information about cancer, cancer treatments, and it's just a really brutal look into the cancer industry and what it means for real people. You can take a treatment that is $120K for four doses or you can buy a house. You can't buy both but what do you want- to live or be homeless? It's that kind of decision that millions of people are making out there and it's just... it's a lot to think about when your body is effectively trying to kill you. I found myself connected with the secondary characters, the friends and family around Mary Elizabeth, who are fighting (and sometimes losing) their own battles with cancer. It's just such a great book. I think cancer scares us all because it isn't forgiving and even if you "beat it" you live with the threat of it popping up somewhere else the rest of your life. Like a cruel carnival game you think you won but oh look- there it is again. 

Please, whatever you do, put some damn sunscreen on, stop going to tanning beds, wear a hat, and the sun is not your friend so stop trying to party with it. And buy this book. You can find it on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble, naturally. 


The Summer of Me

I know it's only May but now is a perfect time to start organizing your summer reading list and getting those books ordered, and I'll be bringing you a lot of great reviews in the next few weeks, so take note! If you are in the market for a feel good, put you in the mood for summer book, then look no further.

The Summer of Me - Angela Benson

The nationally bestselling author of Delilah’s Daughters and The Amen Sisters returns with a moving story about a single mother who discovers the woman she can be in one unforgettable summer.

As a single mother, Destiny makes sacrifices for her children—including saying goodbye for the summer so they can spend time with their father and stepmother. Though she’ll miss them with all her heart, the time alone gives her an opportunity to address her own needs, like finish getting her college degree. But Destiny’s friends think her summer should include some romance.

Destiny doesn’t want to be set up…until she meets Daniel.  The handsome, warm and charming pastor soon sweeps Destiny off her feet. But is romance what she really wants? Or needs?

As the days pass, Destiny will make new discoveries—about herself, the man she’s fallen for, and the people around her. And she’ll face challenging choices.  But most of all, she’ll grow in ways she never imagined, learning unexpected lessons about trust, forgiveness, and the price of motherhood…and truly become the woman she wants to be.


So, I'm going to start this review with just an observation I've noticed as a voracious reader: you almost never see a story featuring an African-American woman let alone have a cover as stunning and inviting as this one. I'm saying that as a totally white person, I could not be more white, and I've always noticed it and I don't know if anyone else does, but I jumped on this tour because it was exactly that. Nothing cookie cutter about this novel, it stands out on its own and it's good. It's a really good story that every mother can relate to, but more so if you're divorced and sharing custody of the children, and I absolutely loved it. And I wanted to be friends with Destiny because I can absolutely relate to her.

Destiny is a single mother of twins and we learn right away that their father is the love of her life, but he felt differently and married some other chick. They are well off and Destiny isn't- she's struggling to make ends meet but give her kids a great life to the best of her ability but she always feels inadequate, though the ex and his new wife do nothing to reassure her. The twins will be spending the entire summer with their dad and stepmom in sunny California, far away from Destiny. While she knows this is an opportunity of a life time for them, she's upset because she can't be the one to provide it. Meanwhile, her friends (and her mother, who can be a bit overbearing and a bit of a nag) are harping on her to use this time away from her children to work on herself. Maybe go back to school and get closer to a degree so she can get a better paying job, leading to more opportunities. Maybe meet a man, or at least get herself out there, and not give up on the chance at love again. She meets Daniel through a friend and that basically starts her off on a summer to remember for her own self.

I flew through this book over the course of one day, curled up in my favorite chair under blankets because it is still ridiculously cold for spring where I live, dreaming of being on a damn beach with some sunshine. This book put me in the summer mindset and it is just a really great chick lit story line. I really liked Destiny because I feel like if Matt up and left, I'd be in the same spot as her. It's hard to get momentum when everything seems so hard and it's hard to make a decision on anything when you don't know what you want. You plan your whole life to be a certain way and when that doesn't happen, you lose steam and direction. I totally get it. It does have a good ending and you leave Destiny feeling like things are going to be alright for her, and ultimately that's all I wanted in this book. But don't worry, this isn't all schmoopy love, it's got a scandal!

The book is lighthearted and fun, it's about female empowerment and ultimately taking care of yourself to be better for other people, something all of us should be doing anyways.

To get your own copy of The Summer of Me, head over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. In the meantime, you can check out author Angela Benson's webpage and her Facebook page for more information on her other books, she's got a few of them!


Monday, May 2, 2016

The Outliers

You guys. I don't care how in debt you are, you need to stop reading this, and purchase this book RIGHT NOW. Right now, and then we'll talk.

It's OK, I'll wait.

The Outliers - Kimberly McCreight

From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything. 


The only appropriate way to sum this book up in two words is: holy shit. Everything else I could say feels incredibly inadequate and this book is everything. I actually have a migraine from an epic, no-sleep, reading session and frankly? I'm afraid to go to sleep because I know I'm going to be thinking about this book.

I'm going to start with the negatives, just to get them out of the way. First, Wylie is kind of a whack a doodle and I'm sorry, but I have such a hard time relating to people with such debilitating anxiety and general issues. Never mind the fact we spend so much time establishing the fact she's kind of a whack job yet SOMEHOW, she miraculously pulls her crap together to get through the rest of the book? Sure, she has anxious moments, is on the edge of falling apart, but she never really does and it's like- why couldn't you do that to get to school? I mean, you're functioning pretty well considering the danger you're in but school or a visit to your therapist's office is just TOO much? So that's not very believable and pretty eye-roll worthy. Secondly, can we talk about how annoying it is that teenagers in books like this are just so incredibly stupid? They just think they know the solution to everything and that also is very annoying. Thirdly, I'm not sure I totally get the whole scientific study of emotional intelligence aspect of the book but considering this is now a series (which I didn't know when I started it), I'm assuming we are going to learn more in future books so it's not only an interesting aspect of the book but it starts to make sense.

So that's the boos.

Let's talk about the yay-ness of this book. First, this book is one you cannot put down. I tried, so I could go to the bathroom, but then I was at such a great part and so I managed to go to the bathroom while holding a hard cover book. Take THAT, e-reader losers. I really could not stop reading this and the entire time I'm trying desperately to figure out who is who, who is really who, what the hell is going on, and I started to feel like Wylie. Like the obvious pieces are right there, we just don't know how they fit into the greater puzzle.

Once Wylie finds Cassie, I feel like the book kind of stunted a little bit, we spend a lot of time just at this weird camp in Maine and it almost feels like the author isn't 100% sure where she wants to go with the story but then out of NOWHERE, all hell breaks loose. It all breaks loose, and it's chaotic and awesome, and then I realized I'm almost at the end of the book. With no possible way this is all going to get wrapped up inside of 30 pages or so. But the ending?

You guys.

I had to go to the bathroom again and my stomach absolutely dropped.

Why am I having to wait? Why do authors do this to me? Why do I have to wait to find out what the hell happens? Is Jasper OK? What's going to happen to Wylie? Who are these people? What is even going on in the world?!

*calming breath*

I just... this book was so good and unexpectedly what I needed. I've been on a romance novel kick as of late and you know I love that. But every once in awhile you need something that makes you fly through it and weigh the pros/cons of a bladder infection. Some books are worth it and this was one of them. I mean, can you give higher praise? This book is worthy of a bladder infection.

Also cool? It's already been optioned for film by Lionsgate with Mandeville and Reese Witherspoon's Pacific Standard to produce. Obviously, you know my rear end will be in line for a ticket. The book itself becomes available May 3, 2016 but you can pre-order it now on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. This is going to be a book I'm recommending to everyone who likes a good "what the hell is happening" kind of book, for sure. In the meantime, you can check out author Kimberly McCreight's website and Twitter for information on her other books, too!

Whisper If You Need Me

I'm trying super hard to read through some of my books that I've gotten through the many months of book subscription boxes I've had because let's face it- if I'm not reading them, why am I having them mailed to me?!

Because I'm a junky, that's why.

But if you remember waaaaaay back in December, this was one of the books I received in my Bookworm Box for that month. I actually started it when I got the box but then I put it down because I've had a lot of review books to do and finally last week I decided I was going to just finish the damn thing to move it from my desk to my shelf for it to be all moody and pretty.

Whisper If You Need Me - Dina Silver

A strong-willed yet vulnerable young beauty, Julia Pearl is sixteen years old when she’s sent away to summer camp for the first time. Julia’s father and stepmother are convinced that time away from home will be good for Julia, hoping it will restore the confidence she lost when her mother disappeared five years earlier. 

Released from the emotional constraints of her new family and the ugly reputation her mother left behind, Julia finds herself reluctantly tossed into the free-spirited and often drama-infused world of overnight camp—where she quickly falls for an intensely charismatic counselor named Jack Dempsey, a nineteen-year-old college student who will prove to save her life in more ways than one.

Rich with humor and poignancy, Whisper If You Need Me is a timeless story that will remind readers of the strength of friendship, the unwavering devotion of family, and ultimately, the power of young love.


Obviously, I'm going to call this more of a YA romance because our leading lady is Julia, who is only 16. She feels misunderstood by her dad and stepmom, who send her off to a summer camp against her will, and she's determined to hate every second of it. But then she meets Emma, a fellow allergy plagued camper (Julia is allergic to peanuts and it's kind of big deal in the book), and then Counselor McDreamy, also known as Jack.

As a kid who has never been to camp, or was sent away for any kind of length of time as a teenager, I can only guess that the author nailed Julia's anger and general feeling of being left behind and unwanted. Her mother was "kicked out" by her dad and she was never really sure why. We do find out why in the book so that is really great because that could have been a really crappy loose end if we didn't. But while at camp Julia tries to adapt and make the best of it, made easier by her friendship with Emma but also Amber. Mostly Emma, though. She encounters mean girls in twins Brittany and Brianna, and they are basically the worst of the worst. Brittany has a thing for Jack, as does another counselor, Liz, so separately Brittany and Liz try their best to make Julia's life a living hell while at camp. Meanwhile, sparks are flying between Jack and Julia and one fateful night at the end of their Voyager's session kind of catapults the rest of the story forward. Honestly? Until that night, things were kind of slow and boring in the book for me, but the last third of the book was really good. I wanted that through the whole book. More drama, more something to keep you moving. This should have been a one day read for me, but like I said above, it was one that I could easily put down and pick something else up.

BUT.

That last third of the book, everything from their night in the woods and beyond, was so good and hooked me that I'm actually going to give this book 4/5 stars. I know. I know, I'm giving a book 4 stars even though it was super boring the first 2/3 which is when most people would throw in the towel. It's enough that I would read more by Dina Silver because I have heard a lot of good things about her other books so I don't know, I will have to read more to know if this is just her way of weaving through a story or just something particular about this book.

You can purchase your own copy of Whisper If You Need Me on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. And I don't know if you're super particular, but both websites have this book available in a used copy to save you some money.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Grocery stores are for jerks.

The first time this happened, I really brushed it off and ignored it. The second time it happened I was little ruder in my response, but again, I let it go and chalked it up to people being stupid.

But today?

Today was the third time someone has made a comment about me being visibly pregnant with a baby in the cart. It doesn't matter that she's one TODAY (you'll get a post about this on Monday, swearsies, just know I'm too emotional to crank one out for today), that I'm married, that I'm not receiving any kind of public assistance whatsoever, nothing.

None of that matters because people are absolute assholes who either through genetic mutation, being gifted a pair of balls, or lacking any kind of common decency, think it's completely appropriate to make a snide comment about knowing birth control exists.

You see, the first time I got a comment was a few months ago and I had Olivia, Jackson, and Penelope with me. I was in that is-she-fat-or-pregnant stage so people weren't sure. I haven't wore my wedding ring in months because any kind of jewelry makes my skin itchy and break out in hives so I generally try not to wear anything. It's never been an issue before, presumably because I only had two kids and maybe people thought I was a sad, divorced woman holding her own as a single mother. Who knows. Then it's like, throw a baby into the mix and all of a sudden people have an opinion on that. I was at the grocery store, at the checkout, and an older man (I'd say maybe in his 60's, wearing an assortment of veteran apparel and hat so I assume he was a veteran himself) says to me, loud enough for the cashier and the next line to hear, "You know- you could always stop popping out children but I guess the welfare pays well."

No.

I am not even kidding, that actually happened. In front of my kids.

I very calmly and politely said, "Well I'm not sure if the welfare pays well because I don't receive any because my husband works almost 80 hours every week."

He didn't have a response because WHAT COULD HE SAY, but the cashier tried to be kind and remark what an asshole he was.

Because that's exactly what he was. He looked at my children and possible new baby and made a judgment based on whatever experiences he's had. Maybe he's had none and he just assumes all of us mothers are getting cash from the government.

The second time it happened was at another grocery store, but this time I only had Penelope and my fetus with me. Penelope was having a particularly rough shopping trip since I wouldn't let her crawl on the floor or throw everything out of the cart because I am a monster, and this woman only a few years older than me says, "You know- they DO make birth control for a reason."

I almost didn't say anything. I wanted to be the bigger person and walk off but I'm also in the throes of depression and sometimes I'm angry for no reason so LUCKY HER, I responded with, "Oh really? Is that still free at Planned Parenthood or did Governor Walker shut that down?" (And I'll be honest, I only said this because she had a "Walker Loves Wisconsin" button on her purse.)

But today. Oh, today took the fucking cake. I may or may not have lost it and almost rammed my cart into an elderly lady because I am just so tired of it, you know?

Today, Penelope had a pretty decent shopping trip. She still thinks I'm a monster who kills all of her joy, but at least today we did it with very little screeching so I was ready to call it a win. But we get to the checkout and I am very clearly pregnant. There is no mistaking this bump for fat any more, it's far too hard and round to be mistaken.

This woman, I'm going to say in her 70's or so, is talking with her friend behind her and they were both commenting on how adorable Penelope was. Mind you, I'm in the front of the cart unloading my items so she can't really see my stomach. I'm hearing how "Jesus gives us babies as blessings" and lots of other religious talk and though I'm not religious, I let it go because in my heart, I think people mean well. And whatever, Penelope is great and she really is a blessing, so I'll go with it. They ask if she's my only and I say no, she's actually my third and we were over the moon to have her.

But as soon as I come around the cart and these women see that I'm very clearly pregnant and you could tell this woman's entire demeanor changed. It was like a Jekyll and Hyde situation, I'm not even kidding.

She then says, "Oh dear. You know, there are ways to prevent pregnancy. You don't have to spread your legs for every man. You'll never get married if you go straight to bed with every one."

NO- I AM NOT JOKING. THIS WAS ACTUALLY SAID TO MY FACE.

Now, I really pride myself in being respectful and kind, and I've had some pretty whacked out things said to me by seniors and I've never had an issue where I felt like I wanted to physically assault a person, but this morning that all changed. I really, really wanted to knock her down. Because who the fuck says that? WHO SAYS THAT? Even if you think it, who actually verbalizes it out of their mouth?

This lady, that's who.

And it was bad enough that the cashier even stopped ringing up my items, and she kept looking back and forth between me and this woman. The woman's friend apparently could tell from my face that I had literally had it because she kind of tugged on the first woman's sweater but this lady looked like she felt proud for saying what she obviously wanted to say to women before me. Just like how she sent me over the edge, maybe seeing yet "another slutty single mother" sent her over the edge today. I don't know.

So I replied with, (and calmly, I said it calmly), "Yes, there are ways to prevent pregnancy. It would be really great if they were all 100% but unfortunately, they aren't. I was always told that Jesus gives us babies as blessings, so that's what my HUSBAND and I are telling people. I'd hate to go against Jesus. And besides, I was always taught it wasn't on us to judge others."

I swear to you, I wish I could have taken a picture of her face. I really wish I could have because if there was ever a time where a person looked like they were shitting their pants? It was right then. That woman had nothing to say. She looked like she wanted to, started to, but then decided it was either not appropriate or she'd look like an even bigger asshole, I don't know.

What I do know is that my cashier didn't say a word, didn't even tell me my total, and I quietly (and quickly) bagged my items up. I wiped the tears that were starting to fall though I tried really hard not to cry in front of this asshole, and I don't think I have ever walked so fast out to my van as I did this morning. And before we left the parking lot, I full on sobbed. Absolutely sobbed. It's bad enough I'm struggling with this pregnancy as it is, it's bad enough I'm trying to be a good mom and a good wife, and trying to not short change people even though I want to crawl into a hole and die most days, but to deal with this kind of thing on top of it?

It's too much, folks. It's too much. And yes, it's one woman. I shouldn't have hurt feelings and I shouldn't let that person get to me. I know, sticks and stones. But man alive. I don't know if it's a change in society, the example our Presidential candidates are giving us, people giving zero cares in general or what, but this kind of behavior is absolutely not OK. It's just not. And I'm pretty sure she'll do it again to someone else, but I'd like to think by me saying something and putting her in her place she won't. I'm not super optimistic, but I can't totally be pessimistic otherwise I may as well jump off the bridge now. But man. What a terrible way to start the day.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rules for 50/50 Chances

Just to highlight what a terrible book reviewer I have been, this book has been on my desk to read since October. Yes, I am that much of a slacker. The stack of review books is ready to topple over which means Matt REALLY needs to get my new shelves up because all of these piles are making me feel like a book hoarder. If they were on shelves I'd look smart and feel like I was living in a real library.

Rules for 50/50 Chances - Kate McGovern

A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life's uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she's going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that tells her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington's disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother.

With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family's genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she'll live to be a healthy adult-including her dream career in ballet and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool and gets an audition for a dance scholarship across the country, Rose begins to question her carefully laid rules.


So, full confession: I know next to nothing about Huntington's disease. All I know is that Doctor Thirteen, played by Olivia Wilde, on House M.D. had it, which she inherited from her mother and we had a several episode arc where she was mentally trying to decide if she wanted to know if she had it. It's not a disease you just get, you're born with the gene and basically it comes on slowly usually in your 30's or so and progressively gets so much worse. Patients eventually lose control over physical movement, cognitive impairment and some psychiatric symptoms.

Basically, it's a really horrible disease to watch someone die from but even more so when you know you could very well be dealing with it yourself in the future.

Which is the life struggle of Rose. Rose is 17, she's watching her mother wither away and become a stranger because of this disease, and while being a teenager full of angst and attitude, she's having to reconcile that some of the things her mother says or does isn't really here- it's the disease. Which, let's be real, if your mother randomly shouted hurtful things to you, your first thought isn't that it's the disease talking, you are trying to not internalize whatever said as truth about you in the eyes of your own mother.

It's a tough deck of cards to deal with.

But also, Rose meets Caleb at a local fundraising walk event for people with incurable diseases. Caleb's mother and twin sisters have sickle cell, equally horrible and difficult to manage, and the two form a friendship which then turns into a romance. Rose, not knowing what her fate is going to be, decides that once she turns 18 she's going to take the test to see if she has Huntington's because she's convinced that will help her make the decisions she needs to about college in the fall, her career, what life path she's going to take. She doesn't want to fall in love and eventually saddle someone down with having to care for her which she thinks would cause that person to resent her. Because while her dad is still caring for her mother, she's sure that if he could choose differently, he would have.

I won't tell you any more because it basically would ruin the book for you but what I can tell you is that Rose makes decisions, and then different ones, and things kind of work out. And I say kind of because while we know what she's going to do come fall, and we have closure and ending on some things, we are left kind of with a cliff hanger. Enough that I really wanted to know. I wanted more answers at the end of the book but then I got annoyed because really- it's like we've come full circle. It's really the ending I wanted all along, and then we get it and I'm annoyed.

I'm as bad as teenager Rose.

But I really liked this book. As infuriating as Rose was for most of the book, and she really comes off as a selfish brat unable to look past her own problems or put them into perspective, she's written really well because isn't that how teenagers are? I mean, I wasn't- I was a perfect kid, obviously. (Ha!) I'll have to give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it is one I'd recommend to people as a fast and interesting read that makes you ask yourself- would you want to know? If you could know how you were going to die, or how much time you had left to be "normal-ish", would you want to know?

I'm not sure. Maybe it's meant to be a surprise for a reason?

You can purchase your own copy of Rules for 50/50 Chances on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. In the meantime, you can find more information about the author, Kate McGovern, on her website and follow her on Twitter!