A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the mother of 15-year-old Mia dies 12 days after being diagnosed with cancer, and her father has a heart attack. Each chapter could stand alone with vivid descriptions of Mia's evolving grief, her relationships with her stodgy father and sharp-tongued older sister, and her challenges with boys, peers, and fitting in. There is some edgy material: Teens discuss sex and romance, sip wine, use profanity, and skip school; there is also reference to the Holocaust and aftermath for Mia's mother's family. But overall, Mia's progression through grief is real, and readers will appreciate that while there is no "sure-bet" cure, she is able to grow by leaning on family and friends.
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What's the story?
Fifteen-year-old Mia's mother checks into the hospital for a stomach ache and dies 12 days later from melanoma. Then her father, whom she struggles to get along with, has a second heart attack and bypass surgery. Helping her absorb it all is a new best friend, shopping trips, and a 19-year-old boy in remission from leukemia. Then, as if keeping herself going wasn't hard enough, her father is suddenly engaged.
Is it any good?
The author expertly weaves Mia's everyday moments as a teen girl -- funny stuff -- with the tough and tear-jerking milestones of her grieving process. Mia gets a new best friend and crushes on boys on the one hand, and ponders her parents' marital discord, her mother's bouts of depression, and her difficult relationships with her father and older sister on the other. CURES FOR HEARTBREAK is a valuable coming-of-age story for the right teen reader ready for the tough subject matter.
The authenticity of this novel stems largely from author Margo Rabb's teen experiences of losing her own mother and father. Mia's teen behaviors after her mother's death are spot-on, and readers will find it easy to connect with her, even if they don't have similar experiences.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the title of this book: What was the "cure" for Mia, or is there one? How are these related to Mia's needs as a teen -- such as the comfort of a best friend, finding love in a boyfriend (one who has his own experiences with illness), or the safety net of a family?
How is Mia a more evolved person in the end?
On the author's website, she remembers that, "Within two weeks after my mother died I'd checked out every library book I could find which featured a dead parent." How does reading about a character like you help you deal with situations?
Why is it also important to read about characters different from yourself?
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