Side Effects May Vary – Julie Murphy


What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.


Hah, so I’m a little late to the party on this one. Can you believe that this has been on my TBR for a year now? Oops.

I read through this quickly, even though some of it was tough to swallow. A lot of “revenge” books show that people can’t get away with the things that they do. They show immediate remorse, or a sudden change of ways after receiving the slightest ounce of “karmic justice.” Well, this book paints a far more realistic picture. There is an adrenaline rush from putting people in their place.

Alice is so angry. Despite being kinda terrible, you HAVE TO feel for her. She’s young and doesn’t know how to deal with her emotions and things in life. She’s just trying to get through it all. The same could go for Harvey.

I expected a somewhat light story (as light as this type of story could get, anyway)—and I thought that’s what I was getting after a few chapters. It got a lot heavier, deeper, and more meaningful behind the silliness, and I’m glad for that. The whole “then and now” narrative was well done, and not jumpy or frustrating.

The climax at the beach house was intense, and the denouement that followed wound down the story exactly where it was meant to go.

Related Reading

  • The F-It List – Julie Halpern
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
  • Burn for Burn – Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Rating: 4/5 


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