poignant and powerful, heart-aching and hopeful [contains spoiler]


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, Ish is dreaming of her work on Mars. Then she wakes up in the hospital with tubes, a sore throat, and a new mission. 

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
Purchase Recommendation:
Young Reader Reaction:

Review pending.

Parent Reaction:

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).


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.


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

Title Love, Ish
Author Karen Rivers
Publisher Algonquin Young Readers © 2017
ISBN 9781616205706
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.95
Genres Family - Adoption, Family, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Friendship, Health - Illness
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