A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Insight into hospitals, cancer and what being a doctor can be like. Good introduction to Indian culture: Hindi words are sprinkled in and lots of descriptions of Indian food. Talks about health insurance system in the U.S. and how tough paying for health care can be.
Follow your dreams and put in the work to achieve your goals. Be loyal to friends and family. Be empathetic to people who are going through hard situations. Stand up for what you believe in. You have to make tough decisions: Sometimes there's no right or wrong answer.
Positive Role Models
Saira is a 16-year-old doctor, academically focused and achieves her goals, but she can be defiant and rude at times. She's very compassionate and loyal to the people around her, which sometimes leads her to making questionable decisions. She stays away from alcohol (except once) and doesn't give in to peer pressure, even when the people around her drink. She has a very good relationship with her parents, sometimes rare in YA novels. There's positive representation of an LGBTQ character who struggles with coming out, and the cast of characters is racially diverse.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Graphic descriptions of the main character and her love interest kissing, but they don't have sex. Lots of flirting throughout. Main character and her sister have a conversation about sex, and she makes it clear she won't be having sex soon. Two secondary characters are caught in the shower together, but there's no description of what happened.
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Mild swearing throughout ("ass," "damn," "s--t"). A few instances of "f--k" and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of nice cars that kids get at 16.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Secondary underage characters drink alcohol at parties, and the main character drinks once before deciding not to drink again. Later, she doesn't give into peer pressure by friends to drink. Passing mention of smoking weed. Mention of sangria as "not a real alcohol." Adults drink vodka.
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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.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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