Send Me a Sign

by Tiffany Schmidt

Send Me a Sign coverMia has been diagnosed with cancer, just as summer is about to start. Just as her friends start discussing the tanning, and the bathing suits and the parties that Mia will, inevitably, have to miss. 

But Mia has always believed in signs. And the signs are telling her if she just keeps her illness secret – hides away for the summer – her friends will never know something was wrong. That she was different.

So she only tells her closest of friends, Gyver, and the boy who may just be playing games with her, Ryan, and starts to look for signs that she can beat the cancer that she’s determined to hide.

Okay. So. I need to rant about this title a bit. But then I bring it back to not-ranting. Fair warning.

This isn’t your typical “I just got diagnosed by cancer” book. Really, it’s not. There are very few medical discussions, and the time Mia spends in the hospital actually seems pretty short.

No, this is a book about Pretending Cancer Doesn’t Exist To Your Friends to Stay Popular. Which – I sorta get? But mostly I didn’t. In fact, it made me think Mia was incredibly shallow if she thought her popularity was more important than her treatment. Likewise, it seemed to acknowledge that Mia knew her friends were shallow enough to think differently of her because she was diagnosed with leukemia. THEN MAYBE YOU NEED SOME BETTER FRIENDS, MIA.*

There are many instances where Mia’s mother is actually egging on her Cone of Silence, even when Mia’s realizing it probably wasn’t a brilliant idea to hide her diagnosis from her friends. Which did make me pity Mia a bit, but it also made me really sad it took almost the entire book for her to stand up to her mom.

On top of all this, Mia does actually tell a few friends. Thereby burdening them with her secret to all of their friends as well. That’s just great, Mia. Way to be a friend to them.

AND THEN, when the secret does come out – as it, clearly, inevitably, obviously, was going to – Mia just feels sorry for herself because everyone is mad at her. For lying. And not allowing her friends to help. And she is beside herself. And bad things happen. And I could not make myself feel sorry for her when they did.**

Just, ugh. Was so ososososososososososo frustrated by Mia’s decision-making process. And of how little she thought of herself and her friends.

And rant over.

So, not particularly liking Mia nor understanding why she continued to make irrational (to me) decisions did have an effect on my view of the story. Esp. since the fallout from those decisions was basically the main plot (like I said, not an I Have Cancer book so much as a How I’m Dealing With Cancer book). But, I got it. I did. She’s terrified. And believes in signs. And just wants to be normal. Not The Girl with Cancer.

And there were a lot of elements of the book I really liked: both of the guys, Gyver and Ryan, were well-depicted. Ryan especially. I wanted to hate him SO much and he never allowed me to. That was both a surprise and great. And I loved that he was the one pushing Mia to tell people. To trust.

And Mia’s relationships with the adult figures in her life were also great. Like I said, I wish she would have stood up to her mom a bit more, but on the whole, I liked it. (Esp. the contrast between her mom and Gyver’s mom.)

This is just one of those books where I didn’t like the main character (or at least her decisions), but I still liked the book on the whole. Because even though Mia clearly had trust and self-esteem issues, all the bad decisions forced her to realize this. And start to work on it – and her friendships. Which = good thing.

Where this book came from: Galley from ALA
Published by: Bloomsbury/Walker

* Incidentally, some of her friends were actually expressing concern and worry for her, which Mia just lied her way through. Or ignored their voicemails. So, maybe she should also give her friends more credit?

**Okay, I felt bad for her. But in the pitying way. Which she was trying to avoid in the first place.

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