Review: I have heard a lot about Julie Murphy’s debut novel, Side Effects May Vary, and have been dying to get my hands on a copy! My wish was granted yesterday at her launch party for the book where they sold copies early! I started and finished the book today. Like I mentioned, I have heard and read so many opinions and descriptions of the book. It seemed that a person either absolutely loved it, or absolutely hated it! Most of the people who hated it talked mostly about their disliking of the main character, Alice. I began to worry and have a few doubts about the book at that point. I didn’t want to buy a copy if I wasn’t going to like it. That may seem a bit shallow, but it’s the truth. I worry about buying a book that I’m not going to like. I don’t like wasting money, ok? Anyways, after being extremely torn from all the controversial reviews I decided to go for it. I have so much respect for the author and enjoy talking with her; I decided she, like any author, deserved a chance. I’m glad I took the chance.
Going into it I promised that I wouldn’t take the book at face value. If I did I knew I’d be reading it wrong. That’s what I thought, anyways. Just by reading everyone’s reviews of the book I could tell it was one that you had to look at the deeper meaning. So that’s what I promised I would do. Read beyond the surface. I could definitely see why some people didn’t like Alice. She is not for everyone. But the truth about Alice is that there is a little bit of her in us all. I had an off again on again relationship with Alice. I loved her at times, her honesty, her bravery (despite it being used for revenge, you have to admit she is pretty brave), and her tendency to hide her feelings. At the end of the book she even mentions that it’s much easier to hide ones feelings rather than wear them on your sleeve. To me that all makes sense. I tend to be more honest than necessary (at least in most people’s opinions). I believe being honest is the best thing you can do. Doesn’t matter if it’s brutal, it’s better to state things how they are and tear the bandage off. I understand the need to hide your feelings and being brave even if it’s for stupid stuff. If you don’t understand those things you probably will hate the main character. If you take her at face value she is the biggest bitch. But I think that everyone has a side to them that is exactly like her. If you were in her situation you can’t honestly tell me that you wouldn’t have thoughts of just being like: What the fuck? I’m dying; I don’t need to deal with the shit that I do, why not let everything go. Why not take the last word? It’s only the people that are brave, and pretty dang stupid that actually put those thoughts into actions. People like Alice. Others might be more hesitant to do that. Why be a bitch back? Take the high road. I can understand that too, though. That is what kept me from fully liking Alice. I didn’t like that she would be a bitch when there wasn’t any reason to be. Like to Harvey. There were plenty of times when Harvey didn’t deserve the treatment he received from Alice. Sometimes I kind of wanted to knock some sense into Harvey. However, I did care about Alice and that’s when I liked that Harvey put up with it. Besides, love tends to make us do unreasonable and crazy things. I didn’t like Alice’s parents. I think those who didn’t like Alice was putting way too much blame on her for her behavior. If you (again) take the book at a deeper level you will see that, Alice was not entirely to blame. Her parents sucked. I’m surprise Alice could hold herself together with them. I would’ve blown up in their faces. The ongoing problem with Harvey also made a few people dislike the book, I think. But it’s not that Alice wanted to hurt Harvey. Because I truly felt she loved him. Even when she didn’t know it. But she didn’t want to hurt him. Which turned her to being a bit of a bitch towards Harvey. Yeah, I agree that sometimes it was unnecessary and felt totally bad for him. But she was scared and didn’t want to hurt him. I don’t think she thought she was good enough for him. Love makes us do unreasonable things.
In the end, Alice definitely could be a bitch, didn’t always do the right thing, and hurt the sweetest boy on earth just a little too much. But who says it was all her fault? Cancer sucks. Her parents didn’t help. Harvey being in love with her probably just added to the stress. She had some fucked up people at school to deal with. I think Alice was nothing more than scared and pissed the hell off. With those situations, I think we all have a side that says “Alice”. It reminded me of Eric Cartman from South Park. Kid is totally spoiled and an ass. But what makes him so great is that everyone can relate to him. Because sometimes you just wanna be an ass.
This is a little side note that I hope Julie herself sees! It has been so awesome hanging with you at all the fun book events! I hope we run into each other in the future! You wrote a wonderful book that speaks to the part in us all that we don’t see often. Or we see too much! Haha! I loved Side Effects May Vary and can’t wait to read what you have coming! Best wishes to you!
Lots of love,