Friday, July 03, 2015

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling, by Lucy Frank

In verse, we get to meet two girls with Crohn’s Disease who share the same semi-private room at the hospital.  For Chess, this stay is her initial diagnosis, with all the trauma of being introduced to the reality of having a chronic disease.  For Shannon, who’s been dealing with Crohn’s for years and is suffering a serious set-back, there is the rage that comes from high doses of prednisone, the frustration of losing the battle with the disease, and the weariness from multiple hospital stays.

The novel has a cute gimmick:  the sides of the page are used to indicate on which side of the room the action is taking place.  And when the two girls are lying down, their words are printed on the appropriate side in parallel.  A line (or the lack thereof) down the middle serves to indicate if the curtain between their beds is closed or open.  It sounds confusing, but it works pretty well.  

As for the story itself, it didn’t really go very far.  The girls have stories which they share with each other, but not much development takes place.  This is partially the classic problem of verse (it is thin) but also that Frank doesn’t have very ambitious goals for this story.  In sum, not much of a point to this book (beyond the clever page layouts, of course!).

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