Poignant and Powerful, Heart-aching and Hopeful | *Contains spoilers*


Our hero Mischa "Ish" Love lives for anything (and everything) Martian. Sure, Mars Now has turned down her application dozens of times, but she is going to keep trying. And now that her used-to-be best friend and space partner Tig has moved, she's going to have to go it alone. A lot like surviving 7th grade. Ish is making it her mission to get along better with people (including her older sister Elliott). All that changes after lunch. There she is sitting under the tree, dreaming of her work on Mars, with yet another headache. Then she wakes up in the hospital with tubes, a sore throat, a tumor she names Nirgal (the Babylonian name for Mars), and a new mission.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (Age 14):
This book has a unique plot, since there are very few novels feature young protagonists battling cancer (Ish is 12). Along the way, the story brings in the importance of friendship, family, and many facts about Mars.


Parent Perspective:
This one took a while to settle in, and I'm still not completely sure what I think. At first, I loved Ish and her strong personality, then her holier-than-thou-self started to grate on me. Did I keep reading because I liked the writing (there wasn't going to be a surprise ending) or because I was felt like I couldn't abandon a sick child? The author does a nice job presenting the typical scenes (and feelings) of someone who has cancer, the way others "see" the patient, and what both sides think but don't say. On the other hand, she does a LOUSY job portraying how parents would tell their teen children about being adopted. We are an adoptive family. This one I know.

Does Love, Ish take on a really hard subject? Yes, but it only half-takes on other hard subjects: being an adopted teenager; being yourself in a world where everyone is something else and you're "supposed" to be like them; and last but not least, losing your lifelong best friend (and trying to figure out your emotions about him).

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Character strength, friendship, and family shine in this first-person story told about a young girl's journey to hope and acceptance. Teens and young adults dealing with their own diagnosis - or of someone close to them - may find a friend in Ish.

Content Awareness Factors:

The author does not sugarcoat Ish's diagnosis. The ending is written in a positive, hopeful manner, but she does die.

Type of Book:
This is a first-person story about a young girl's fight with brain cancer. This book has high interest / low readability potential.
Educational Themes:

Ish knows A LOT about Mars and shares that in telling her story. Throughout the book, Ish talks about being adopted and how she and her older sister reacted to the news. The core of the plot, however, is her battle with brain cancer. Love, Ish can open discussions on a number of topics, from adoption and cancer to the emotions and realities of friendship, peer pressure, and loss.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
9 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 14
Purchase Recommendation:

Title Love, Ish
Author Karen Rivers
Publisher Algonquin Young Readers © 2017
ISBN 9781616205706
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.95
Genres Adoption, Family, Friendship, Health & Wellness
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