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Parents' Guide to

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Rapid-fire story of boy's horrible final week of school.

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Good lessons about the cult of overachieving

Pros: Wow I could not disagree more with the reviewer on two stars. I love Lisa Yee's other works like the Millicent Min trilogy and Bobby vs Girls, so I was excited to read Kidney Hypothetical. Coming from a family, culture, community of myopia who think Harvard is the epitome of Life, I know too many people who teach their kids to be entitled overachievers that think that an Ivy League diploma means you're better than everyone else. I think the 'hate campaign' against Higgs was a good wakeup call that intelligence and grades and achievement, doesn't trump friendship, kindness, empathy and actual thinking and consideration for others. What's more, it acknowledges the unhappiness and insecurity that "perfection" can bring. I know many young people who could stand to learn this lesson. I'm in my late 30s but my inner teenager thoroughly appreciated this book. Cons: There is the usual swearing and smoking in teenage fare these days. I'm not sure that Higgs really learned his lesson as far as getting away with fraud. The parental neglect is troubling but realistic considering what they're dealing with, however it isn't explained helpfully for a younger reader. (As an adult I can see the clear symptoms of severe depression and need for professional help, but the realistic stigma in the book and in the culture is unfortunately realistic.) The ex-girlfriend and other girls in school are one dimensional, yes. However I thought it was more a symptom of how Higgs saw them rather than how we are supposed to~ granted a teenage reader may not get that nuance. Overall I think the message that "success alone won't bring you happiness" is a useful message that some entitled people in my own community could stand to learn. Maybe not in yours, but definitely appreciated in mine. Five stars.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

The book has a decent premise: that achieving for the sake of achieving and putting aside your own dreams to make other people happy aren't the best approaches to life.

Unfortunately, the event that sets Higgs Boson Bing's horrible week in motion is ridiculous. Although it becomes clear that Higgs is not as perfect as he tries to appear, the level of hatred, cruelty, and retribution aimed at him is weird and out of proportion. Most of the characters are annoying, and much of the dialogue involves yelling and name-calling, especially in the first part of the book. The numerous insults hurled at Higgs are supposed to be humorous, but the humor falls flat. The school's reaction to overt bullying is unbelievable and awful.

The character of Monarch is a take on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliché, but her character is welcome in that she challenges Higgs to truly examine his goals and motives. The book is better when the reader gets to know Higgs and see the struggles that led him to become a driven, high achiever. More of that level of insight into the pressures facing many teens would have be welcome. Otherwise, there are too many awful characters in this book to make it a completely enjoyable read.

Book Details

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