Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy [Tour Stop and Giveaway]

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Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray
Release Date: March 18th 2014

Synopsis:


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?

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, whom 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 and reliving some childhood memories). 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 done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.


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Maybe it's because I haven't read all that many cancer books. I've read a few, of course. Over the summer I read a UK one, Before I Die by Jenny Downham. So maybe my experience is vague, but I'm pretty sure nothing like this has been tried. I mean, in most cancer books, the person dies, right? The whole point is how to live each day like it's your last? And I'm sure you've read the summary. Here is Alice, totally expecting to die so she goes about her bucket list- and then she goes into remission. Um, whoops. Now she has to deal with the consequences of everything she's done.

Alice was not an easy character for me. Half the time I was calling her a bitch and the other half I was marveling at how familiar she seemed. I hated the way she strung Harvey along. I hated how she couldn't realize how obvious the solution was. But I totally understood where she was coming from. I could understand her fears. I could understand how she and her mother don't get along anyways. I could understand how she can't allow herself to be with Harvey but seeing him with someone else is infuriating and heartbreaking. I get it. That's the crazy part. As absolutely horrible as she is... She's so relatable.

While her bucket list is certainly not one I'd endorse, I love how it gave us a solid foundation. Like, this is what Alice is like. This is how horrible she is. But if you get past all those awful things, you see that she really does have potential. And I think that's so perfect. Because you can't truly know a person until you've seen them at their lowest. And Alice, like most people, is not perfect. But that's okay. She doesn't have to be perfect.


And for the record, this book isn't all about her. So if she frustrates you, read it for Harvey. He's the other half of this story. He's been in love with Alice for as long as he can remember and he's the one she chose to do these crazy things with. But Alice is, to put it bluntly, a bitch. (As I always say, don't fall in love with a bitch.) But he stills loves her. And he has to find a way to reconcile his feelings for her and his sense of self. Which was hard for me, too. Because he probably did deserve someone better. But he deserves to be with the one he loves. But the one he loves is an awful person. But she has so much potential. So I think he made me want to cry the most. Because life is difficult like that. He's open and honest about his feelings and Alice, while used to the truth, enjoys being in control more. And I loved Harvey and the role he played. I loved watching him grow as a person, too. It was incredibly sweet. He helps you see Alice for what she really is, even though it took him a while to figure it out himself.

This book is truly amazing. I guess I say that a lot, but this one is amazing in life-changing way. I don't want to get into the details of my life or anything, but this is the kind of book that makes you inspect what your values are and what you are truly like. It's eye-opening. If Alice can get over her issues and slowly become a better, kinder, less selfish person... It's inspiring. And watching her character learn and grow made me tear up. This whole book, I was on the verge of tears. But don't be discouraged because while it's sad at times, I think it's ultimately uplifting. It's everything good and bad and ugly about our lives and that's okay. Because even though the ending was not nearly enough for me, there's still hope. And sometimes that's all that matters.



Rating: 4.5 stars



Recommendation: this is for anyone who likes contemporary, cancer books, or life-changing/eye-opening books. It's for anyone who likes self-discovery and a hint of adventure.

 
Thank you so much for having me!

It's totally my pleasure!

What inspired you to write Side Effects May Vary?

Until recently, I had worked with teens at a public library. At one of our movie nights, we got into a huge debate over the zombie apocalypse and where we would all barricade ourselves should be we be stranded in the library. The conversation quickly evolved into a discussion of what we might do if all bets were off. Then I started to think about kind of plausible circumstances might simulate that experience. And that's where it all began. I also really wanted to write about a main character who was her own worst enemy--the antagonist of her own story.


How did you come up with the title?

I actually queried SEMV under a different title (The Symptoms of Our Shadows), and my agent asked me to come up with something else. I went through hundreds of ideas before noticing the phrase "side effects may vary" on the back of a medicine bottle. It's stuck ever since!


What books or authors inspire you?

In the YA world, I am hugely inspired by A.S. King. I love how frank her books are. I have lots of other favorites, too! Christa Desir, Courtney Summers, John Corey Whaley, Rainbow Rowell, and Trish Doller to name a few. My ultimate favorite book is God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo. I read lots of adult, too, but I'll leave it at this for today.


What's your favorite childhood book?

It all started with Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.


Can you tell your readers a bit about Alice and Harvey? What makes their relationship special?

I thing that Alice & Harvey have a very complex and trying relationship, and I think that's what sets them apart. They are both very much products of their environment, and I like to think they both react to being in love or thinking they're in love as a result of that. Harvey is very honest and open about his love for Alice, but Alice is very confused by her feelings for Harvey. Being in love makes her feel exposed and vulnerable. The only way she knows how to reconcile that is to be in control, and ultimately manipualte Harvey. At the start of the book, Alice tells you all about how her family values honesty above all else. She believes that she's being honest, even when it hurts, but in reality she's doing herself a disservice by not being honest with herself. Phew. Sorry about that. I could talk about those two forever.


What would you do if you were in Alice's position?

Well, I think that I might not burn quite as many bridges, but I do hold a mean grudge. I think at Alice's age, my bucket list might not be so drastically different, but now that I'm a little older, I think I'd want to maximize my time by traveling and spending it with the ones I love most.


What was your happiest moment while writing? What was the scariest moment?

There are a couple of chapters set at a beach house while Alice and Harvey are on spring break. I actually wrote that entire chunk in one night of literary abandon. It was amazing because for the first time I could remember, the characters were really leading the scene. I was just medium, really. (OMG how insane do I sound?) I would say the most daunting moment was the beginning. For me, beginnings are terrifying, and I usually don't have them just right until the final draft.


How did you deal with writer's block?

I think there was a time when I was easily defeated by writer's block. Since selling Side Effects, I've learned how to work through that, and how to force myself to write even when the inspiration wasn't there. Of course books, movies, and musics are always a nice creative boost, too.


Is there anything you want your readers to know?

Well, I guess, I'd like to say thank you for giving my little book a chance. Alice isn't an easy character--she's not supposed to be. She's unlikeable, and is definitely a challenge, but I'd like to think there's some pay off for sticking with her.


What sort of impact has writing this book had on your life?

Well, I'd never planned on being a writer, so this book has literally changed my life. In a not so literal way, I've had this opportunity to tap into two different sides of myself in writing Alice and Harvey. I think we write to understand ourselves, and Side Effects May Vary has definitely help me found a piece of myself. Here's hoping the next book adds another piece to the puzzle.




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Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie's debut novel.





Win (1) finished copy of Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy (US Only)







-Wolfie

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