AUTHOR: Hannah Moskowitz
PUBLICATION DATE: November 5th, 2019
GENRE: Young Adult, LGBTQ+, Romance, Contemporary
Isabel has one rule: no dating.
–for the other person.
She’s got issues. She’s got secrets. She’s got rheumatoid arthritis.
But then she meets another sick kid.
He’s got a chronic illness Isabel’s never heard of, something she can’t even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who’s a doctor.
He’s gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.
Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It’s never felt better–
–to consider breaking that rule for him.
Before I get into this review, here’s a short background on me: I was born with spina bifida and have since been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and transverse myelitis. All of these things combined, plus surgical outcomes from my 20+ surgeries makes me very disabled and chronically ill.
When I got really sick back in 2008, I turned to reading. I have read hundreds and hundreds of books, but I’ve never found a book that I could relate so much to as Sick Kids in Love. When I first picked it up I was a little afraid that it would be another book that just didn’t quite get it. (Usually because of their able bodied authors.) You can tell almost immediately that Sick Kids is an ownvoice novel. There’s no way someone who is healthy could possibly write sick characters as authentic as Isabel and Sasha.
Although I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis or Gaucher disease, I fully understand what it’s like to be chronically ill. So many of these character’s reactions and interactions were familiar. The gutting disappointment of receiving normal test results when you just know something is wrong, able bodied friends and family not quite understanding even though they try, the utter hurt and disappointment that they can’t understand. There’s so many more instances that I could relate to.
This is a small excerpt that REALLY stuck with me because I’ve never been able to articulate or express that feeling of anger at people around you being healthy, even though they can’t help it and it’s not their fault that I’m sick.
Representation is so SO important. As a white person, I’ve had that rep my entire life. As a lesbian, that rep started really picking up in the last 10 years or so. Representation as a disabled and chronically ill person? It’s taken my entire 24 years to find some. And that breaks my heart, but also makes me so grateful for this book.
Not only does this gorgeous book have sick rep, the main characters are Jewish, and there’s tons of queer rep! Sasha is bi, has queer moms and a ton of queer cousins. One of Isabel’s best friends is a lesbian and dating another one of Isabel’s friends. All of this made me love the book even more. Another thing I really loved was it didn’t shy away from talking about chronically ill people having sex! It’s not an explicit part of the book, but it does show them talking about it and the things they would have to do different from a healthy couple because of their illnesses. I LOVED this part, because it’s shocking how often disabled/sick people are infantilized. Sick people can have sex too! And it’s nothing to be ashamed of if a few things have to be changed!
I thought Isabel’s school column in the start of each chapter was really neat too. I didn’t quite understand the Claire stuff, but I still thought it was interesting.
There are only a couple things I didn’t super love, but nothing major. One is that Isabel’s dad never really had any character growth. He is very dismissive of Isabel’s RA, which is so annoying (and something I can relate to as my dad is very dismissive of my illnesses.) I know that not everyone grows and that it would take a lot more than one conversation with Isabel, but I would have liked to see something more there. I also didn’t love how opposed Isabel was to using a cane. I totally get not wanting to use it/being scared to use it, but I would have liked to see her use one in the end. I’ve been in the same situation of fear of what others will think of someone young using a mobility device, but eventually I got over that because of the need for it.
Other than those two things, this was so so so beautiful. It quite literally brought tears to my eyes knowing there’s people out there in the world who have had the same experiences I have. Thank you, Hannah Moskowitz, for giving me that.
Super special thanks to Hannah Moskowitz and EntangledTeen for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review! I loved the cute PR box y’all sent out. It’s the first one of its type I’ve gotten and it made my day!