Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award!

A debut novel for fans of The Fault in Our Stars that thoughtfully and humorously depicts teen Ricky Bloom's struggles with a recent chronic illness diagnosis.
 
"Silverstein sheds a powerful light on disease and how managing it can bring out one’s inner warrior. A blistering coming-of-age tale that will propel readers into Ricky’s corner." -Booklist

As if her parents' divorce and sister's departure for college weren't bad enough, fourteen-year-old Ricky Bloom has just been diagnosed with a life-changing chronic illness. Her days consist of cursing everyone out, skipping school--which has become a nightmare--daydreaming about her crush, Julio, and trying to keep her parents from realizing just how bad things are. But she can't keep her ruse up forever.

Ricky's afraid, angry, alone, and one suspension away from repeating ninth grade when she realizes: she can't be held back. She'll do whatever it takes to move forward--even if it means changing the person she's become. Lured out of her funk by a quirky classmate, Oliver, who's been there too, Ricky's porcupine exterior begins to shed some spines. Maybe asking for help isn't the worst thing in the world. Maybe accepting circumstances doesn't mean giving up.
Karol Ruth Silverstein attended the American Film Institute and works as a writer and screenwriter in L.A. Cursed is her debut novel.
Karol Ruth Silverstein View titles by Karol Ruth Silverstein
I have a perfect mouth. That is, according to my dentist, aka my dad, aka Dr. Dad
Straight white teeth. Healthy pink gums. Zero cavities. Perfect. 
The rest of me is anything but. It's irregular. Damaged. Cursed.
Here's the basic info on me (the me I am now anyway):

1. I currently live with my dad in his one-bedroom bachelor pad, aka Dr. Dad's Batch Pad. He obviously wasn't thinking about me—or my older sister, Dani—when he rented this place. All there is for us to sleep on when we visit is the lumpy pullout couch in his poor excuse for a living room. Right after Thanksgiving, the Disaster-Formerly-Known-As-My-Parents decided I should live here. For my own good, they said. Now I'm riding the Sofa-Bed-From-Hell full time and Dani's so busy at college studying every second she's not burning up the basketball court, she hardly ever visits. 

2. I'm fourteen and I'm in middle school. I kid you not. I was in high school, like a normal fourteen year old, back at the beginning of the year, before I got shipped to my dad's. Now I'm enrolled in glorious Grant Middle School, the only seven-eight-nine school left in Philadelphia, maybe the only one left in the country. It was the only school close to the Batch Pad that the Disaster-Formally-Known-As-My-Parents could get me into midyear.

3. Speaking of Glorious Grant Middle School, I haven't actually attended classes since the last week of December, which was about six weeks ago. No one knows. Not Mom. Not Dad. Not even Dani. Soon enough my secret will be out and, if I'm lucky, my parents will just kill me. If I'm not, they'll force me to go back to Glorious Grant Middle School, where I may or may not still be able to pass ninth grade.

4. My life seriously sucks (in case you haven't picked up on that yet). And it's not just living with Dr. Dad and going to middle school even though I'm fourteen or some other bullshit, like the boy I'm crushing on isn't crushing back. Trust me, my particular life suckage is on a whole different level. (For the record, the boy I was crushing on was totally crushing back—until I got sick.)

5. About that—I have this pathetic disease.  Never mind what it's called. If I told you, you'd laugh and think I was joking. That's what Crush Boy did—right before he ghosted me. I did an internet search three months ago when I was first diagnosed, and what it turned up was so depressing I decided the less I knew, the better. Worse yet, pretty much no one gives a crap about this boring-ass disease. It's not something that would prompt my classmates to shave their heads in solidarity or have a bake sale for me. I doubt it's ever trended on Twitter. It's just this embarassing, painful, fucked up thing I have.

6. And, yeah, I curse. Deal with it.
A teen fights to put her life back together after developing a painful chronic illness and secretly skipping school for six weeks. Ricky lives in Philadelphia in her father's one-room "Batch Pad," sleeping on a lumpy "Sofa-Bed-From-Hell." Her parents unilaterally decided she'd live there because Mom's house, in another neighborhood, has three stories—and Ricky, as of four months ago, has juvenile arthritis. She has chronic pain—"dull and sharp," often excruciating, her joints on fire. Her feet feel like she is walking on broken glass. So she bailed on school—the bullying didn't help either—and, instead, waits each morning for Dad to leave, then crawls into his (non-sofa-)bed, desperate for sleep. Naturally, she's caught. This justifiably furious kid who says "Fucking asshole!" to a teacher's face launches "Operation Catch-Up-So-I-Can-Get-The-Hell-Out-Of-This-Crap-Ass-School"—in other words, somehow pass ninth grade. Ricky's sharp, flowing, uninhibited voice makes this a page-turner. Her life improves: accessibility accommodations, a proper bed, agency (sometimes!), a new doctor, more treatment options. The ending's a bit glossy, but Ricky's pain and future aren't romanticized. Ricky's white and Jewish, and her family is middle-class; characters default to white, and brown skin and curly hair are sometimes exoticized. Protagonists with chronic nonmalignant pain and illness are far too rare; this does the job.
Kirkus Reviews


High school begins with a double cataclysm for Ricky, short for Erica: her parents suddenly divorce, and she receives a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, a very painful autoimmune disease that has her relearning how to move her body with the least amount of embarrassment. “Worse yet, no one gives a crap about this boring ass disease. It’s not something that would prompt my classmates to shave their heads in solidarity.” Brimming with rage, she skips school and lashes out at her parents and the world. Ricky’s fury moves the narrative along with an intense energy, showcasing her sardonic, foulmouthed self and drawing readers into her suffering. In time, a new doctor, a more promising medical regime, a wise classmate, helpful teacher, sister, and, yes, even her parents come through in ways Ricky will come to appreciate throughout her tough journey. Silverstein sheds a powerful light on disease and how managing it can bring out one’s inner warrior. A blistering coming-of-age tale that will propel readers into Ricky’s corner.
Booklist


Recently diagnosed with arthritis, 14-year-old Ricky Bloom now lives in “the Batch Pad” with her dentist father and attends a new middle school in Philadelphia. Ricky begins “the Charade,” ditching school to avoid bullying and the pain of getting there. Instead she spends her time sleeping, taking hot baths, and daydreaming about Julio, a cute drummer. Embarrassed by her pain and limitations, she prefers to keep to herself; the only person she chooses to see is her older sister Dani, a college basketball player who lives with her girlfriend of three years. When Ricky’s truancy is discovered, she risks having to repeat ninth grade, which would bring more unwanted attention to her already miserable, angry days. Back to school (for real this time), she finds unlikely support from an English teacher and an adorkable guy named Oliver, a cancer survivor. These relationships and a new doctor who listens to her provide Ricky a sense of hope, allowing her to become a better version of herself. Silverstein’s debut young adult novel is an accurate portrayal of the challenging relationship between parents and teens, as well as the frustration of living with a chronic illness. VERDICT: Readers will enjoy this contemporary coming-of-age story featuring a resilient protagonist and charming plot.
School Library Journal


 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.
Publishers Weekly

About

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award!

A debut novel for fans of The Fault in Our Stars that thoughtfully and humorously depicts teen Ricky Bloom's struggles with a recent chronic illness diagnosis.
 
"Silverstein sheds a powerful light on disease and how managing it can bring out one’s inner warrior. A blistering coming-of-age tale that will propel readers into Ricky’s corner." -Booklist

As if her parents' divorce and sister's departure for college weren't bad enough, fourteen-year-old Ricky Bloom has just been diagnosed with a life-changing chronic illness. Her days consist of cursing everyone out, skipping school--which has become a nightmare--daydreaming about her crush, Julio, and trying to keep her parents from realizing just how bad things are. But she can't keep her ruse up forever.

Ricky's afraid, angry, alone, and one suspension away from repeating ninth grade when she realizes: she can't be held back. She'll do whatever it takes to move forward--even if it means changing the person she's become. Lured out of her funk by a quirky classmate, Oliver, who's been there too, Ricky's porcupine exterior begins to shed some spines. Maybe asking for help isn't the worst thing in the world. Maybe accepting circumstances doesn't mean giving up.

Author

Karol Ruth Silverstein attended the American Film Institute and works as a writer and screenwriter in L.A. Cursed is her debut novel.
Karol Ruth Silverstein View titles by Karol Ruth Silverstein

Excerpt

I have a perfect mouth. That is, according to my dentist, aka my dad, aka Dr. Dad
Straight white teeth. Healthy pink gums. Zero cavities. Perfect. 
The rest of me is anything but. It's irregular. Damaged. Cursed.
Here's the basic info on me (the me I am now anyway):

1. I currently live with my dad in his one-bedroom bachelor pad, aka Dr. Dad's Batch Pad. He obviously wasn't thinking about me—or my older sister, Dani—when he rented this place. All there is for us to sleep on when we visit is the lumpy pullout couch in his poor excuse for a living room. Right after Thanksgiving, the Disaster-Formerly-Known-As-My-Parents decided I should live here. For my own good, they said. Now I'm riding the Sofa-Bed-From-Hell full time and Dani's so busy at college studying every second she's not burning up the basketball court, she hardly ever visits. 

2. I'm fourteen and I'm in middle school. I kid you not. I was in high school, like a normal fourteen year old, back at the beginning of the year, before I got shipped to my dad's. Now I'm enrolled in glorious Grant Middle School, the only seven-eight-nine school left in Philadelphia, maybe the only one left in the country. It was the only school close to the Batch Pad that the Disaster-Formally-Known-As-My-Parents could get me into midyear.

3. Speaking of Glorious Grant Middle School, I haven't actually attended classes since the last week of December, which was about six weeks ago. No one knows. Not Mom. Not Dad. Not even Dani. Soon enough my secret will be out and, if I'm lucky, my parents will just kill me. If I'm not, they'll force me to go back to Glorious Grant Middle School, where I may or may not still be able to pass ninth grade.

4. My life seriously sucks (in case you haven't picked up on that yet). And it's not just living with Dr. Dad and going to middle school even though I'm fourteen or some other bullshit, like the boy I'm crushing on isn't crushing back. Trust me, my particular life suckage is on a whole different level. (For the record, the boy I was crushing on was totally crushing back—until I got sick.)

5. About that—I have this pathetic disease.  Never mind what it's called. If I told you, you'd laugh and think I was joking. That's what Crush Boy did—right before he ghosted me. I did an internet search three months ago when I was first diagnosed, and what it turned up was so depressing I decided the less I knew, the better. Worse yet, pretty much no one gives a crap about this boring-ass disease. It's not something that would prompt my classmates to shave their heads in solidarity or have a bake sale for me. I doubt it's ever trended on Twitter. It's just this embarassing, painful, fucked up thing I have.

6. And, yeah, I curse. Deal with it.

Praise

A teen fights to put her life back together after developing a painful chronic illness and secretly skipping school for six weeks. Ricky lives in Philadelphia in her father's one-room "Batch Pad," sleeping on a lumpy "Sofa-Bed-From-Hell." Her parents unilaterally decided she'd live there because Mom's house, in another neighborhood, has three stories—and Ricky, as of four months ago, has juvenile arthritis. She has chronic pain—"dull and sharp," often excruciating, her joints on fire. Her feet feel like she is walking on broken glass. So she bailed on school—the bullying didn't help either—and, instead, waits each morning for Dad to leave, then crawls into his (non-sofa-)bed, desperate for sleep. Naturally, she's caught. This justifiably furious kid who says "Fucking asshole!" to a teacher's face launches "Operation Catch-Up-So-I-Can-Get-The-Hell-Out-Of-This-Crap-Ass-School"—in other words, somehow pass ninth grade. Ricky's sharp, flowing, uninhibited voice makes this a page-turner. Her life improves: accessibility accommodations, a proper bed, agency (sometimes!), a new doctor, more treatment options. The ending's a bit glossy, but Ricky's pain and future aren't romanticized. Ricky's white and Jewish, and her family is middle-class; characters default to white, and brown skin and curly hair are sometimes exoticized. Protagonists with chronic nonmalignant pain and illness are far too rare; this does the job.
Kirkus Reviews


High school begins with a double cataclysm for Ricky, short for Erica: her parents suddenly divorce, and she receives a diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, a very painful autoimmune disease that has her relearning how to move her body with the least amount of embarrassment. “Worse yet, no one gives a crap about this boring ass disease. It’s not something that would prompt my classmates to shave their heads in solidarity.” Brimming with rage, she skips school and lashes out at her parents and the world. Ricky’s fury moves the narrative along with an intense energy, showcasing her sardonic, foulmouthed self and drawing readers into her suffering. In time, a new doctor, a more promising medical regime, a wise classmate, helpful teacher, sister, and, yes, even her parents come through in ways Ricky will come to appreciate throughout her tough journey. Silverstein sheds a powerful light on disease and how managing it can bring out one’s inner warrior. A blistering coming-of-age tale that will propel readers into Ricky’s corner.
Booklist


Recently diagnosed with arthritis, 14-year-old Ricky Bloom now lives in “the Batch Pad” with her dentist father and attends a new middle school in Philadelphia. Ricky begins “the Charade,” ditching school to avoid bullying and the pain of getting there. Instead she spends her time sleeping, taking hot baths, and daydreaming about Julio, a cute drummer. Embarrassed by her pain and limitations, she prefers to keep to herself; the only person she chooses to see is her older sister Dani, a college basketball player who lives with her girlfriend of three years. When Ricky’s truancy is discovered, she risks having to repeat ninth grade, which would bring more unwanted attention to her already miserable, angry days. Back to school (for real this time), she finds unlikely support from an English teacher and an adorkable guy named Oliver, a cancer survivor. These relationships and a new doctor who listens to her provide Ricky a sense of hope, allowing her to become a better version of herself. Silverstein’s debut young adult novel is an accurate portrayal of the challenging relationship between parents and teens, as well as the frustration of living with a chronic illness. VERDICT: Readers will enjoy this contemporary coming-of-age story featuring a resilient protagonist and charming plot.
School Library Journal


 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.
Publishers Weekly

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