I recently finished Abby, Tried and True and I greatly appreciated the representation in this book as well as the message. Not only are these themes important, but Abby’s brother Paul has cancer, and the portrayal of a diagnosis and chemo was very realistic. This is a solid middle grade read, and the author provides some important information in her note.

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The summary, from Amazon:

Fans of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise and Shouting at the Rain will love this “authentic and warm” (Kirkus Reviews) story of the bond between siblings from the award-winning author of Lily and Dunkin and The Paris Project.

When Abby Braverman’s best friend, Cat, moves to Israel, she’s sure it’s the worst thing that could happen. But then her older brother, Paul, is diagnosed with cancer, and life upends again. Now it’s up to Abby to find a way to navigate seventh grade without her best friend, help keep her brother’s spirits up during difficult treatments, and figure out her surprising new feelings for the boy next door.

Buy Abby, Tried and True here.

Abby is deeply upset when her best friend and neighbor Cat moves to Israel. Things only get worse when her brother Paul is diagnosed with testicular cancer. She struggles with a little bit of bullying at school, all while befriending and falling in serious like with her new next door neighbor. The representation of chemo and cancer treatment were totally on point in this book, and I loved Abby’s relationship with Paul. His friends show Abby so much support when Cat moves, and Abby continues to provide support for her brother and moms throughout the book.

I loved the representation in this novel of a teenager with cancer, a family with two mothers, and a Jewish family. I also thought it was important to show that Abby is bullied for being quiet. It brought me back to when I was a kid. There were times I was perceived as snobbish when I was going through things, and I’m sure I felt that way about other children.

I did think it was a little strange Abby didn’t ask a ton of questions about Paul’s diagnosis. A loved one of mine beat testicular cancer, and I had so many questions when he was diagnosed, just like I did when another friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I would think a middle school-age child would have a ton of questions that never get brought up in this book. However, Gephart provides a wonderful author’s note with information on, signs, and symptoms of testicular cancer.

My only other qualms with this book were that I didn’t fully emotionally connect and that I wasn’t a huge fan of the one parent’s YouTube career. She includes Paul and later Abby in her videos and it feels a little exploitative to me. But otherwise, this was a lovely 4 star read with some important representation.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Abby, Tried and TrueAbby, Tried and True by Donna Gephart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I didn’t emotionally connect to this one as much as I would want to, it’s a really well done story realistically portraying what cancer treatment can be like for an individual and their loved ones.

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Book Club Questions

  1. How do Abby and Paul show support to one another? What about their moms?
  2. Describe Abby’s friendship with Cat.
  3. Why do you think one of Paul’s friends was so supportive for him during his treatments, while the other became disconnected?

Interested? Buy Abby, Tried and True.
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