By Monica Cazzolli
There has been a trend in recent years for Young Adult novels that deal with the real issues: life, death and the tough stuff they don’t write about in children’s books. Think The Fault In Our Stars or The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Most of these novels deal with subjects that we all know about even if we have not experienced them ourselves. And that’s where this book is a little different – this novel tackles the subject of living with a rare genetic illness.
Rules for 50/50 Chances is a book about Huntington’s Disease. But really…mostly it’s not. It’s a story about growing up, finding love, long time best friends, pursuing your passion, family and choices. And I enjoyed every minute of this young adult novel and found it very easy to relate to.
Rose, the protagonist, is about to turn 18. She’s a ballet dancer and an over thinker in her last year of high school. And she’s not sure what to do next. Add to that complication meeting an interesting guy when she’s not ready to open her heart. And oh yeah…Rose’s mother has HD
Author Kate McGovern has painted an insightful and thoughtful look at HD and families. Rose’s mum’s HD is getting worse as Rose learns more about her options for genetic testing. Rose is navigating this uncertain path whilst trying to keep a meaningful relationships with her mother. She battles her own demons about what her future might hold. And if she really wants to know if she has her mother’s disease.
This book creates a world and characters you can connect too, Rose and her friends and family face real issues; race, religion, living with illness, life and death. But despite the sometimes heavy topics the book doesn’t feel depressing. But it does feel real. At its very heart it’s a story about family and the challenges we face together, the sacrifices we make for those we love and the bonds that bind us together.
For those living with HD this might well be the teenage/young adult answer to Lisa Genova’s Inside the O’Brien’s. There may be parts of this book that are hard to read, or confronting for some people. This book touches on some of the tougher parts and outbursts that can happen for someone with HD and for some that might be a little too close to home. If you want a novel that is sincere, real, yet hopeful whilst capturing the finer details of Huntington’s Disease and genetic testing then this book is for you. And if it’s not, then perhaps it might just be the thing to get your friends to read to get a bit of an insight into living with HD.