Review Detail

Finding Balance Featured
Young Adult Fiction 1346
strong read about cancer and visible disabilities
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
FINDING BALANCE is a YA contemporary romance that follows Mari and Jase. Mari had osteogenic sarcoma when she was 10 and had a complete amputation of a leg as a result. She was left without any residual tissue, which makes a prosthesis uncomfortable and challenging. As a result, pretty much everyone notices her disability right away and pries into her life. When her public school says that she must use a wheelchair or prosthesis instead of her crutches, Mari is shocked- what they are asking would make her life so much more difficult and is completely unfair.

Her parents find another solution, enrolling her in a private school on scholarship, where they are willing to be more accommodating. Mari is excited to see that her almost-kiss friend from Camp Chemo attends the same school, but she is shocked when he ignores her and pretends not to know her. He tells her that he doesn't want anyone to know that he ever had cancer, so he pretended not to know her. He also allows his friends to say horrible things about her- even in her hearing range. Despite all of this, Mari is understanding and willing to accept his apology. However, things may not be so simple.

I really enjoyed learning about Mari and what life can be like with a visible disability- as well as how cruel people can be and the horrible (and untrue) things they can say. The author has a similar story, and so, this book is quite educational to the reader as to this experience, and highly valuable as a read for teens.

The romance was tough to buy into, as Jase is really cruel to Mari in quite a large portion of the book. We do get context on why he has such strong fears about this (past bullying), which is helpful if you are inclined to forgive. I think Mari deserves so much better, but this is a personal opinion. I loved Mari- she felt so real. I also appreciated the conversations both characters had with their parents, that provide some learning opportunities and well-thought-out epiphanies.

As a small point, I did get confused during some of the book with regards to the characters, as there are a lot (and parents are sometimes, but not always, referred to by their first names), but this may have been because I did not read the first book in the series. About halfway through, I was having an easier time following who was who.

Overall, I think this is a great read, not for the romance, but for the strong story of Mari, her experiences and the way that people treat her. Viewing the world through her lens (and the author's) is a valuable experience.
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