Friday, April 20, 2012
R for Radiate, by Marley Gibson (fiction) - cheerleading, cancer, redemption
Work hard, practice hard, cheer hard!
Cancer? How can she have bone cancer?
Hayley isn't going to let surgery or radiation or chemo stop her. It's her senior year and her only chance to shine as a cheerleader. Stubborn runs in the family, it seems, and her parents' reluctance to tell her about their hardware store's dire financial situation could be their undoing.
Great that her grade-school buddy Gabe has moved back to town and is the football team trainer; he'll make sure that she does her physical therapy correctly before cheer practice every day. Not so great that her hair falls out from the chemotherapy or that her boyfriend Daniel is so squeamish about medical stuff.
The author had bone cancer in high school and used her experiences as the basis of Hayley's story. She is setting up the Radiate Foundation so that local cheerleading groups can bring goodie baskets, cheers, and smiles to pediatric cancer patients during their hospital stays, just like those visiting cheerleaders did for Hayley.
Book info: Radiate / Marley Gibson. Graphia Books/HMH, 2012. [author's website] [book website] [publisher site] [book trailer]
My Recommendation: Hayley decided to try out for cheerleader her senior year and made it! That painful lump on her leg must be just from practicing too hard, learning learning all the cheers. But it’s bone cancer…
No time to waste on worrying about it – it’s aggressive cancer and Hayley’s doctor uncle helps her find the best treatment at the University hospital, three hours away from home and her handsome football player boyfriend Daniel and her buddies and her childhood pal Gabe who just moved back to town.
Thank goodness for cellphones and computers so she can stay in touch a bit. Head cheerleader Chloe isn’t very sympathetic, more worried about having an unbalanced cheer squad for cheerleading camp than about Hayley enduring chemotherapy before school starts.
It’s tough for Hayley to miss cheer camp, to miss the first football game, to stay away from her friends for so many weeks. Thankfully, a group of cheerleaders from a high school near the university find out she was there and burst into her hospital room to invite her to come to their practice and teach them some PHS cheers.
Finally, Hayley gets to go home, back to school – on crutches, with a huge scar on her leg, and with exacting physical therapy instructions – determined to cheer again. But even the most positive thoughts won’t stop her from losing her hair after chemo, won’t keep Daniel close to her, won’t make Chloe less snippy about Hayley missing a little practice time to do her physical therapy under Gabe’s supervision.
Can she truly overcome this cancer? Will her medical bills overwhelm her family? Will her long-absent big sister finally come home to see her?
Based on the author’s true experiences with bone cancer as a teen, Hayley’s story goes beyond mere medical facts to explore what it takes to truly Radiate as a positive force to help others overcome the odds in their lives, too. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.