Confessions of a Teenage Leper
Confessions of a Teenage Leper
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Annotation: Struggling with the fallout of mistaken diagnoses and disappointed hopes, a once-popular cheerleader from a small Texas community learns that she has a rare disease before reevaluating her past choices and navigating a difficult recovery.
Catalog Number: #167740
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 291 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-7352-6261-6
ISBN 13: 978-0-7352-6261-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017960301
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Abby's goals are simple: win a cheerleading scholarship to USC, study acting, and become rich, famous, and adored. Her plan is derailed, however, when she acquires Hansen's disease re commonly, and insensitively, known as leprosy. Hansen's disease changes everything. She loses friends as her face changes; her body becomes too weak to cheer; and she eventually has to live in a residential treatment center with other patients. Abby's voice is funny and strong; her clarity and bite will immediately draw readers in, but unease mounts as it becomes clear that Abby is a mean girl. In fact, she's a cruel girl, ridiculing the "freaks and fatties" at her school with abandon. Though Abby's redemption arc, realistically portrayed as a slight softening rather than a complete change of personality, is ignited by her illness, the real turning point is her older brother's unsettling disappearance, a subplot presented without the weight it deserves. With family secrets, a shocking illness, a treatment-center romance, and a sharp narrative voice, this book is sure to appeal to teen readers.
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Abby feels like life is going well until a red patch on her leg refuses to clear up.Abby's life is on a pretty good trajectory until she discovers she has Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy. Suddenly, everything she thought was important—being a pretty, popular, naturally blonde cheerleader—is replaced by having to deal with erupting skin, numb feet, headaches, sore joints, and traveling away from her family to receive medical treatment. As her world unravels, however, her views on what's important in life begin to change, and the loss of friends, cheerleading, and popularity begins to seem not that bad. The shame she feels at having Hansen's disease becomes easier to understand as she learns about the long history of discrimination against Hansen's patients. Unfortunately, Little (Niagara Motel, 2016, etc.) drives these self-discoveries home relentlessly, and the characters tend to feel more like symbols of thematic growth than actual people. Little weaves a wealth of interesting research into her descriptions of the disease and the treatment center, which grounds the tale in authenticity. A subplot involving Abby's brother, Dean, and his coming to terms with being gay offers another interesting diversion. The book follows a white default.An unusual twist on the typical sick teenager story. (Fiction. 15-18)
Publishers Weekly
Seventeen-year-old Abby Furlowe feels her life is just about to begin. She-s the beauty queen of her small Texas town and plans to land a cheerleading scholarship to the college of her choice to pursue modeling, acting, and fame. But Abby-s not very nice. Then, what begins with a rash turns into numb feet, followed by a cheerleading accident that puts her in a coma for 16 days. She is finally diagnosed with Hansen-s disease, also known as leprosy, and it-s the end of the world as she knows it. Abby-s harsh voice is riddled with dark humor, making for an effective first-person narrative that conveys palpable anger, shame, resentment, and sadness as she-s faced with her disintegrating health and friends who desert her because they-re as shallow as she has been. Little (Niagara Motel) pulls no punches in describing the agony of living with a chronic disease, and weaves in a subplot about Abby-s brother-s homosexuality and struggle with destructive behavior. When Abby is sent off to a facility in Baton Rouge, La., for treatment, she meets new friends who accept her as she reforms her identity into something more substantial, reflective, and kind. This unusual and inspiring story reminds readers that difficult circumstances can strengthen one-s character. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
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ALA Booklist (9/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12
They think I got it from an armadillo. Isn't that the most fucked-up thing you've ever heard? I mean, seriously. It's the twenty-first century. Who gets leprosy anymore? No one. That's who. Unless you, like, live in a gutter covered in filth or were in the Bible, or unless you're me. My name is Abby Furlowe. I'm seventeen years old. I live in ------, Texas. I'm blanking out the name of my town because I don't need some jerk-off coming to find me, getting all up in my face and spray-painting the words DIRTY LEPER across the front of my house. Privacy is important to me now. It didn't used to be. I used to want to model for Seventeen magazine. I used to want to be an A-list actress and have a beach house in Malibu. I used to fantasize about the paparazzi following me around and me blowing kisses into their cameras, or giving them the finger, depending on my mood that day. When I was a little kid, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I'd say, "I want to be beautiful." And then they'd laugh and say something cheesy like, "Oh, sweetie. You already are beautiful." And it was true. I was. I really, really was. And I wasn't one of those bleach-blonde chicks who thinks she's so pretty she could maybe be a model one day; I actually was that pretty. And I'm a natural blonde. I was crowned princess of my junior high, I was on the high school cheerleading squad, and I was crowned Miss ------ two years ago. I got to wear a rhinestone tiara and a dress Miss Universe herself would've killed for. I stood in the back of a red convertible cruising down Main Street, waving to onlookers at the Fourth of July Parade. You would never think that now, if you saw me today, but it's true.
I guess the very first thing I noticed was a little reddish spot on my thigh, like a little sunburn patch or something. It was the summer I turned seventeen, and I was a lifeguard at the local pool. No big deal, right? It'll go away. Just leave it alone, I thought. But it didn't go away. That's the thing. That's the worst thing. It never really went away.
So, anyway. I waited and waited for it to go away and it didn't, so finally I showed my mom. She ran her fingers over it and poked at it, but it didn't hurt, and she squinched up her face at me like she does when she's worried about something but doesn't want to say what it is. "What?" I said."Don't pick at it," she said."I haven't been picking it, Mom!""Okay." She nodded. "That's good."She put some ointment on it and took me to the doctor the next day.Dr. Jamieson was the doctor who had delivered me. He knew my complete medical history from minute one, even before that, actually, if you want to get technical.He knew about every rash, flu and infection I'd ever had. He didn't know anything about this red spot though. He thought it was eczema so he gave me a prescription for some cream. So off I went, bought the cream, put it on, blah blah blah. It didn't work. In fact, I got another little scaly patch on the side of my foot and then one on my face. On my face! Right between my eyebrows. Like, the worst possible spot, obviously. So . . . yeah. I went back to see Dr. Jamieson.

Excerpted from Confessions of a Teenage Leper by Ashley Little
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Cheerleading, mean girls, shopping . . . and leprosy? High school is about to get complicated. For fans of Before I Fall and Exit, Pursued By a Bear.

Abby Furlowe has plans. Big plans. She's hot, she's popular, she's a cheerleader and she's going to break out of her small Texas town and make it big. Fame and fortune, adoration and accolades. It'll all be hers.

But then she notices some spots on her skin. She writes them off as a rash, but things only get worse. She's tired all the time, her hands and feet are numb and her face starts to look like day-old pizza. By the time her seventeenth birthday rolls around, she's tried every cream and medication the doctors have thrown at her, but nothing works. When she falls doing a routine cheerleading stunt and slips into a coma, her mystery illness goes into overdrive and finally gets diagnosed: Hansen's Disease, aka leprosy.

Abby is sent to a facility to recover and deal with this new reality. Her many misdiagnoses mean that some permanent damage has been done, and all of her plans suddenly come tumbling down. If she can't even wear high heels anymore, what is the point of living? Cheerleading is out the window, and she might not even make it to prom. PROM!

But it's during this recovery that Abby has to learn to live with something even more difficult than Hansen's Disease. She's becoming aware of who she really was before and what her behavior was doing to others; now she's on the other side of the fence looking in, and she doesn't like what she sees. . .

Darkly comic but ultimately touching, Confessions of a Teenage Leper is an ugly duckling tale with a surprising twist.

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