(Image from Barnes & Noble)
From a young age, Emily Wing felt different from the kids around her. Her emotions seemed out-of-whack, making her feel alternately aggressive, angry, anxious, lonely, and sad. Impulsive behavior and frequent dizziness also plagued the little girl. Starting therapy at six helped a little. Mostly, though, she found solace only in writing stories. "Words never let me down," she recalls. "With words, I never let myself down" (62). A near-fatal accident at 12 led to a discovery that went a long way toward explaining Emily's feelings of otherness—doctors found a tumor the size of a grapefruit growing at the base of her skull. This "miracle" find changed the life of pre-teen Emily, who was determined to overcome the lingering, debilitating effects of the brain tumor to fulfill her dream of becoming a successful author.
In the fickle world of YA lit, memoirs are a rare breed. Cruise the teen shelves at the library or bookstore and you'll find only a few. That's one of the reasons All Better Now, a new memoir by YA novelist Emily Wing Smith is so refreshing. It's unique, yes, but it's also honest, funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful. A tale like this could so easily veer into a sappy, platitude-filled story; it doesn't. It's uplifting while remaining both raw and real. Teens, especially, will appreciate Smith's forthrightness. No matter their age or experience, readers' hearts will go out to young Emily, an entirely empathetic heroine with a wholly compelling story. All Better Now is not the kind of book I usually describe as compulsively readable, but in this case, it's true. I devoured it in one sitting. Hand this one to teens—or anyone, really—who enjoys a quick, enlightening read that will make them look at the people around them with new eyes and a more compassionate heart.
(Readalikes: Reminded me of Small Steps by Peg Kehret and This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Grace Earl)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for brief, non-graphic mention of mature subjects (prostitution, sex, child molestation, male anatomy, etc.)
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of All Better Now from Amazon using a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.