Parents' Guide to

Side Effects May Vary

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Mean girl with cancer matures in complicated romance.

Book Julie Murphy Romance 2014
Side Effects May Vary Poster Image

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Kids say (5 ):

In SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY, first-time author Julie Murphy presents a complicated, sophisticated teen romance between high-school juniors Alice and Harvey. Teens will find the characters believable and enjoy following their relationship as it matures along with Alice and Harvey themselves. Each character's inability to choose the better path, even though they all fully recognize their own weaknesses, can sometimes be frustrating. It keeps Alice, in particular, from being truly relatable, as she consistently hurts those around her.

Harvey and Alice take turns narrating the story, which gives a refreshing and balanced perspective to events. But they also go back and forth in time somewhat unevenly. Even though the chapters are labeled "Then" and "Now" at the beginning, it's sometimes hard to follow or to reconstruct the time line of events. The writing's solid and mercifully devoid of schlock but lacks any kind of unique spark to elevate the novel above a genre piece.

Book Details

  • Author: Julie Murphy
  • Genre: Romance
  • Topics: Friendship , High School
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  • Publication date: March 18, 2014
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
  • Number of pages: 336
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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