Cursed – Karol Ruth Silverstein

Cursed – Karol Ruth Silverstein, Charlesbridge Teen; (9781580899406), 2019

Format: hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre: realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Erica (Ricky) has arthritis and it’s ruining her life. She’s living with her father and trying to skip going to her new (more accessible) school every day so she can stay home and sleep and take hot baths to ease her joints. It works until it doesn’t and she gets caught. Now she has to be a model student if she wants to pass the 9th grade and graduate to go to high school. The teacher who’s the biggest stickler for her makeup work is her speech teacher who requires that Ricky make up some of her missed time by staying after school. At first Ricky hates the speech class, but she begins to enjoy the challenge presented by her teacher and she rises to meet it. Meanwhile, her occasional doctor’s appointments are not only fruitless in relieving her of joint pain, but also frustrating because her doctor refuses to talk to her and instead directs his attention to her mother. Ricky is angry at the world for her disease and has no desire for friends…except for Julio who’s hot and a talented musician. Soon another boy gets under her skin, Oliver, who has survived childhood cancer and knows what it’s like to be different. Ricky and Oliver become good friends, but when Ricky ignores him in his moment of need, Oliver decides he’s done with her. Can Ricky convince Oliver to give her another chance? Will she ever take control of her own medical decisions?

I predict this one will be popular with students. Issues addressed include divorce, friendship issues, medical autonomy, and childhood disease/disability. I sped through it in one day and couldn’t put it down. Students will be drawn to Ricky’s fiery personality and will stick around to see what happens between Ricky and Oliver. The author relates her own experience with arthritis in the afterword.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Students who are interested in learning about characters with chronic illness will like this book.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Ricky seems to fetishize Julio’s ethnicity in a few instances. It also ties up a bit too neatly at the end. I suspect most teens will not mind.

Who should buy this book? Recommended for most middle and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Realistic

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: March 3, 2020


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