There are many ways to do cancer books. First, there are really good, self-aware, non-preachy ones, like The Fault In Our Stars or Me and Earl and a Dying Girl. Then there are Nicholas Sparks cancer books, which… let’s just say they aren’t our favorite around these parts. And THEN, there’s Lurlene McDaniel.

Lurlene McDaniel books are the Lifetime movies of cancer books. This woman has churned out title after title of these since the early 90s. Books like Baby Alicia is Dying and Sixteen and Dying and Too Young to Die and Goodbye Doesn’t Mean Forever and I Want to Live. So many promising titles! I knew I needed in on the action, so I ordered about 30 Lurlene McDaniel books off of ebay.

And wow. Just wow. These books are something else. They demand a separate review format than what we normally do around here. Think Erin’s SVH reviews, but with more terminal illness.

First and foremost, the only way to read these is by contracting your own illness: liver failure! Because the best way to judge a book is by how many drinks you’ll need to get through it.

The Official FYA Lurlene McDaniel Drinking Game

Take a sip when:

  • A new disease/tragic accident/other medical crisis is mentioned
  • Every time a character has a physical deformation
  • A character complains about their inability to connect with their disease-free former friends and classmates
  • You read the word “remission”
  • The bible is quoted

Take a shot when:

  • There is a party in the hospital
  • A character dies
  • Cancer makeover!

Chug during:

  • Any description of a medical procedure, for the duration of the description

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk about the rest of the review format!

Cover Story: Much like the category in our regular book reports, but these covers are in a class of terrible all of their own. They’re like romance novel covers, but with less romance and more cancer.

Featured Ailments: Why would we talk about the one-dimensional characters when the diseases are the actual stars of the story?

The So-Called Plot: Watch as I struggle to sum up the “plot” of the book. I guess I should technically give a spoiler warning, but I’m not sure you need one when everything is completely predictable and you’re not invested in any of the characters.

Notes from the Margin: In which I take my favorite quotes and present them out of context, with bonus scathing commentary!

Without further ado, I bring you:

Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.