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Author: Karen Rivers

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Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers, 2017

Material: hard cover

Summary: Our hero Mischa "Ish" Love lives for anything (and everything) Martian. Sure, Mars Now has turned down her application dozens of times, but she is going to keep trying. And now that her used-to-be best friend and space partner Tig has moved, she's going to have to go it alone. A lot like surviving 7th grade. Ish is making it her mission to get along better with people (including her older sister Elliott). All that changes after lunch. Sitting under the tree, Ish is dreaming of her work on Mars. When she wakes up, she's in the hospital with tubes, a sore throat and a new mission: fighting brain cancer. This is a first-person story about a young girl's fight with brain cancer. This book has high interest / low readability potential.

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; read yourself: 9 and Up

Interest Level: 10 and Up

Reading Level: 4.8

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: This one took a while to settle in, and I'm still not completely sure what I think. At first I loved Ish and her strong personality, then her holier-than-thou self started to grate on me. Did I keep reading because I liked the writing (there wasn't going to be a surprise ending) or because I was felt like I couldn't abandon a sick child? While the author does a nice job presenting the typical scenes (and feelings) of someone who has cancer, the way others "see" the the patient, and what both sides think but don't say, she does a lousy job in portraying how parents would tell their teen children about being adopted.

Does Love, Ish take on a really hard subject? Yes, but it only half-takes on other hard subjects like being an adopted teenager, being yourself in a world where everyone is something else and you're "supposed" to be like them; and last but not least, losing your lifelong best friend (and trying to figure out your emotions about him).

Pros: Character strength, friendship, and family shine in this first-person story told about a young girl's journey to hope and acceptance. Teens and young adults dealing with their own diagnosis - or of someone close to them - may find a friend in Ish.

Cons: The author does not sugarcoat Ish's diagnosis. The ending is written in a positive, hopeful manner, but she does die.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.


Educational Themes: Ish knows A LOT about Mars and shares that in telling her story. Throughout the book, Ish talks about being adopted and how she and her older sister reacted to the news. The core of the plot, however, is her battle with brain cancer. Love, Ish can open discussions on a number of topics, from adoption and cancer to the emotions and realities of friendship, peer pressure, and loss.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - family, illness, young adult, middle grade, adoption, friendship

Date(s) Reviewed: October 2017

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