Hey Guys! It was at this moment typing that I realized I usually have a cup of tea to comfort me while I enact my reviewing shenanigans. Of course, I had already made myself tea and it is now lukewarm. C’est la vie.
Today we are talking about Love, Ish. This book is gut-wrenching. I just got off the phone with Morgan because I needed cheering up after I cried for the last hundred pages of this book. I haven’t cried this much since The Fault in Our Stars. When you really, truly, honestly love a character they are real to you. The best characters are so full of flesh and flaws and quirks that they are indistinguishable from real people. After all, you don’t get to go around reading regular people’s thoughts. That is a special privilege of intimacy that we get to have with imaginary people only, the reflections of our honest selves that we share with so few people.
This is how I felt about Ish. She wants to go to Mars (despite the Perchlorate). Her water-chugging dad won’t stop with the puns. Her older sister is perfect, and her best friend moved and hasn’t emailed her back. Oh, and she likes The Martian (me too, Ish, me too).
I have never read a Middle-grade with a thoroughly flawed protagonist before. Ish is relateable. She releases when she hurts her family. She feels the soul-deep, all-consuming love for space that keeps her somewhat untethered from the earth. She is a wholly passionate, flawed person and I wish I could have met her when I was trying to grow up myself.
To talk about this book I”m going to have to give you a spoiler: Ish dies. You know she is going to die from the middle of the book, when her plans for mars get derailed by an inconvenient bout of brain cancer. This is not a deus ex machina where an experimental treatment saves the main character at the last moment. It is also not gratuitous or lonely or harrowing. I have never felt simultaneously so uplifted and sad, deep into the marrow of my ribcage before.
Not every kid gets better. Love, Ish is her letter to us, signed and sealed with thread and page numbers. It is everything that she needed to say. It is ecstatic and beautiful and worth reading even though she does have to sign off at the end.
I just reread the last chapter trying to find away to put this book into words. I want every sick kid to read this book. I want them to know Ish for all her obsessions and her friendships and also to know that she dies at the end, because everybody dies and the story is still worth living in the meantime.
Signing off to reread the last chapter again.