cover image Cursed


Karol Ruth Silverstein. Charlesbridge Teen, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-58089-940-

First-time author Silverstein offers an insider’s view of living with a chronic illness in this heartfelt novel set in Philadelphia. Every movement has become a struggle for ninth-grader Erica (“Ricky”), recently diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, who has had to move from her mother’s house to her father’s “bachelor pad” to avoid using stairs. In constant pain, irritated by “The-Disaster-Formerly-Known-as-My-Parents,” and tired of taunts from schoolmates, Ricky vents her frustration by cutting school—for six straight weeks—and cursing copiously, both of which sit poorly with her new school’s administrators. When she’s eventually caught skipping and forced to attend classes, she faces new obstacles if she wants to make it to 10th grade, including makeup work and after-school sessions with a strict teacher. She also finds some rewards, especially learning how to advocate for herself and developing a friendship with empathic classmate Oliver, a cancer survivor. Silverstein, who was diagnosed with arthritis as a teen, excels at evoking the physical and emotional pain Ricky endures without having Ricky’s condition define her. She emerges as a likable, relatable heroine whose wit and sense of hope will prove inspiring. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (June) [/em]