A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sona Charaipotra’s Symptoms of a Heartbreak is about 16-year-old girl genius doctor Saira Sehgal navigating the complex world of professional medicine while dealing with everyday experiences of being a teen. This novel gives readers a peek into what being a doctor can be like, and the difficult choices that doctors must make. It tackles topics like cancer in great detail, as well death and health insurance. There's kissing, described in some detail. Swearing included "damn," "ass," "s--t," and a few instances of "f--k" and "bitch." There's also underage drinking (the main character tries drinking once) and mentions of smoking weed. The death and emotions surrounding cancer may be intense for some readers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SYMPTOMS OF A HEARTBREAK is about a 16-year-old girl, Saira Sehgal, who's the youngest doctor in the United States. After speeding through high school, college at Princeton, and medical school, she starts her career -- and realizes that being tops in school doesn’t mean being a doctor is going to be a walk in the park. She has to prove herself to her crabby boss, beat out her two co-interns for a coveted fellowship spot, make difficult life and death decisions … and deal with her feelings for a very cute patient. Saira has to learn to balance her empathy and impulsive instincts with the reality of cancer and the field she's chosen to go into. And while she’s learning how to be a better doctor, she just might finally learn how to be a teenager, open her heart, and learn what living life is really about.
Is it any good?
This heartwarming story about the realities of illness, love, and friendship is great for readers interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Though Saira obviously does not follow a traditional path, the book describes illness and the medical profession in great detail and gives readers an overview of what life working in a hospital could be like. It may inspire some readers to pursue medicine, while discouraging others because of the intensity and tough decisions that Saira has to make. Fans of Bollywood and Indian culture will love the mouth-watering descriptions of Indian food, tidbits of Hindi, and references to several Bollywood films throughout the book. It also has strong messages about standing up for what you believe in and living life to the fullest every single day.
Saira’s decisions can sometimes be impulsive, defiant, or downright unsafe, and she faces consequences for them. Readers may find themselves cringing and frustrated at some of her decisions, but will end up rooting for her because of her intentions and pluck.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how following your dreams is shown in Symptoms of a Heartbreak. Saira knew that she wanted to be a doctor very early. Do you have any idea what you might want to be? How would you go about following that path?
Do you think Saira lets her emotions get in the way of her work? Or does it help her be a better doctor? How do we balance our emotions with being practical?
How would you support a friend who has only come out to you?
- Author: Sona Charaipotra
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Macmillan
- Publication date: July 2, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Hardback
- Last updated: August 1, 2019
Our editors recommend
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.