Author: Marley Gibson
Published: April 3, 2012
Rating: 5+ Birds
Hayley Matthews has one dream: to make it onto the varsity cheerleading team her senior year of high school. Odds are against her, but she doesn't let that stop her from trying. So she works hard for months, perfecting her gymnastics and dancing moves. And despite the odds, she makes the squad.
In an instant, Hayley's life changes. Now she's part of the popular crowd at school, dating a football player, and going to parties. And she's working hard to be as perfect on the squad as her captain expects them all to be.
But then one day Hayley notices a lump on her left leg and the steady throb she's been feeling has gotten much worse. She can barely walk. When Hayley goes with her mom to get it checked out, the diagnosis is cancer. The doctor can't say how bad it is or what the prognosis will be. At the minimum, she'll have to have surgery. At the most it could mean loss of her leg or even her life.
Once again Hayley's life changes in an instant. Now she must face the odds again and show everyone, including herself, just how strong she is. And through it all--three surgeries, chemo, radiation, rehab, and just getting back to a normal life--it's cheerleading that keeps Hayley focused and positive.
All she wants to do is cheer, and nothing, including cancer, is going to stop her.
My take: When I read the synopsis on this book, I immediately jumped at the chance to read it after having a family member go through chemo and radiation. I also wondered quickly if Hayley would survive.
Immediately I fell into this book and didn’t turn back once. Marley got to me quickly by throwing it straight into Hayley’s attempt to become a cheerleader and lead a new life…be someone else.
But quickly getting a charge on the cheerleading thing, things fly by quickly and we’re to a point where Hayley needs to go get this lump on her leg consulted by a doctor. And that’s when things take a turn for the “what the hell is going to happen here?”
Joining Hayley on a battle through surgeries, chemo and radiation was like being on a constant roller coaster, but it was NOT that “ugh can this ride be over yet?!” because it was so true to how some people react when going through all of the turmoil that comes with having cancer. And to top things off, Hayley has to witness things her parents are struggling with at the same time.
Having a big sister who screwed things up so long ago, a brother who’s kind of perfect in some ways, and parents who have no clue what to do but look after their baby is almost incredibly accurate of how families can be. Throw in a former neighbor, a boyfriend, and a cheer squad…and it’s just incredibly amazing.
All in all my favorite part of this entire story is just how strong Hayley is. She kind of defies everyone and everything with her head held high. To see a female character just take charge and believe, more times then not, that things would be okay…was refreshing. And the best part was, even with the less important characters along the way, I got to see a lot of eye opening things of how some people get treated when they’re at a younger age and going through cancer treatment.
So if you want a tearjerker, an emotional roller coaster, and a feel good book all wrapped into one, DEFINITELY take a shot at Radiate!
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