Lately it seems as if I’ve been reading (and writing about) more YA than adult books. This is purely coincidence, my only goal in reading and choosing the books I read is find something good. I have to file this book in that category. For all the John Green fans out there – this is one you’ll also enjoy. Somebody Up There Hates You follows the few weeks Charlie spends in a hospice, as a result of what he calls SUTHY. SUTHY is an acronym of the book’s title, and the disease all of the hospice’s young patients are suffering from. He has very little faith in anything, and being so close to death at only 17, who can blame him?
When I first started reading the book, I felt like I was re-reading The Fault In Our Stars, only this version wasn’t as good. It’s hard to top that book, because it was so amazing, but after reading the author’s biography in the back of the book I understood why she wrote this book. Seamon cared for her own son while ill, and drew upon her experiences while her son stayed in a hospice for this novel. That’s not to say that this novel hasn’t become more popular as a result of John Green’s success. This is her first YA novel, and before this she had written a few novels, and is a writing professor at Fairfield University, which is in Fairfield, CT.
Richie and Sylvie are the novel’s doomed couple, both teenagers staying at a hospice. They are no Hazel and Augustus, but still likable. Richie finds a way to bring light and humor into Sylvie’s life. As some of the youngest patients in the hospice this couple breathes new life into the hospice. Instead of languishing like some of the other patients, they’re both fighting their diagnoses. And as Halloween approaches in the novel, they’re both looking for a bit of fun, something that reminds them of a normal life. They also find comfort, and relate to each other in a way that no one else can.
“I look into her eyes. They look hot, like two coals. Maybe she’s got a fever. More like she is a fever. ‘Okay, yeah,’ I say. ‘I’m scared to death.’ I try to chuckle on the last word, show her it’s a kind of sick joke, but I can’t. I feel my own eyes getwet. Serious she wants, serious she gets. ‘Yes, Sylvia,’ I say. ‘I am most definitely scared.'”
As a parent this book represents my worst nightmare, it’s the same feeling I had when reading Fault. It’s no surprise that Seamon had this same experience, as a writer this is a unique experience. A parent watching her child suffer, and the feeling of helplessness is probably the worst feeling in the world. Seeing any child suffer is hard. Charlie’s mother rises to the occasion, spending every available moment with him. Sylvie’s family is broken apart by her diagnosis, causing Charlie and her father to clash repeatedly in the hospice.
Without giving away the ending, it does end on a positive note, which is remarkable given the book’s grim subject. I look to Charlie to look beyond what I’m suffering through in my own life. I can try to find the silver lining, the positive things, and maybe see the glass as half-full.