ARC Review: Finding Balance by Kati Gardner
Updated: Aug 23
Author: Alex Richards Publisher: Bloomsbury YA Release Date: July 7th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
This timely, emotionally-resonant story about a teen girl dealing with the aftermath of a tragic shooting is a must-read from an exciting new YA talent.
Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she's being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.
Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna's father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that's not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn't kill Mandy--it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.
Now Johanna has to sort through it all--the return of her absentee father, her grandparents' lies, her part in her mother's death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?
In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.
I received a free copy for an honest review.
Me, who just finished this book, and don't know what to do with myself:
See, this is why I love reading books. Books can expose you to different perspectives from various people, opening your eyes to the world.
Finding Balance (a book so perfectly titled), is a book that follows our two protagonists: Jase and Mari. Mari is a cancer survivor who had to have one of her legs amputated to live. Jase, another cancer survivor, is from a wealthier background and attends a luxurious private school but also suffered his own share of trauma from his battle with cancer. The unlikely pair met at a summer camp for cancer kids, and the rest is history. The book utilized these two character's experiences and interactions to show how these strong individuals battle sickness, and the unjust judgment people like them would have to face after overcoming their own individual health obstacles.
One of the important things I learned from this reading experience is that people like Mari are not asking for a lot, they just want to live their lives in peace. Just leave them alone. Don't go out of your way to "pity" them and get a life and not go out of your way to make life harder for them (seriously, I don't get people like this). Not to add on, there are so many instances that I can see pissing a lot of people off. I am going to make the logical assumption that many (if not all) of Mari's experiences are based on first-hand experiences from the author (since Mari's physical characteristics are based on herself), which makes it so much sadder. The fact that people would label people "diseased" and view them as some sort of disgusting creature because they are going through medical conditions that they cannot control and is not even contagious is infuriatingly ridiculous.
(me to the abominations known as Madalyn and Lindsay)
(that's the PG version of it).
Let's delve further into our center stars: Jase and Mari. I enjoyed reading through their perspectives. You know how a lot of times, the author would utilize miscommunication to create conflicts between the two protagonists to keep the story going? And just how annoying that is because we as the readers get frustrated due to the illogical nature of the situations? That did not happen here (thank god). Mari is mad at Jase because Jase lied about his situation at school and needs to pretend he has nothing to do with Mari to keep his secret. Sounds like a typical jerk, right? Well, here's the thing. Mari being upset with Jase was completely understandable, and her attempts at avoiding Jace felt very realistic, logical, and most importantly: not forced. But I also understand Jace's reasons behind what he is doing, and can sympathize with him with his own bad experiences with judgmental people. Specifically, I feel like I can relate to Jase because if I am in his situation, I would do the same thing too.
Ultimately, I am so glad I get to read this book. Even though the topics in Finding Balance is not what I usually read, it's a very thoughtful book that I take seriously and can learn something from. So I'm very appreciative of this reading experience.
about the author
Kati is a recovering actor who has spent the last few years keeping tiny humans alive. In high school she was determined to play a doctor on General Hospital and possibly add in a love story with Jonathan Jackson. She would spend hours toiling away on FanFiction for my AOL community and dreaming of the day she would accept a Daytime Emmy Award. In college she majored in Theater arts and spent lots of time hanging out in the box office.
Before any of that happened though, Kati had cancer. She was eight. She responded to chemotherapy and had an amputation of her entire left leg. She still advocates for childhood cancer research and accessibility for all individual with disabilities.
Kati is married, has two great girls, and a posse of furry friends. She doesn't watch General Hospital anymore, but still thinks that Lucky Spencer is one of the most dynamic characters ever written.