Friday, April 30, 2004

Death Lit

Somewhere between disaster movies (THE TOWERING INFERNO, AIRPORT '75) and disco, there was a small pocket of time in which novels and memoirs came out about teenagers dying of some disease, usually cancer. I was a teenager at the time, so after I read a few of these books, I figured that it was just a matter of time until I, too, was toast.

Here are some of the books:

SUNSHINE (novel) by Norma Klein. This novel was based on the real-life tapes and journals of Jacquelyn Helton, a 20-year-old mother who died of bone cancer.

ERIC by Doris Lund. This was a memoir of a young man by his mother. He was diagnosed when he was 17 or so, and valiantly fought the disease, finally sucumbing to it at 21 or 22.

ELLEN: A SHORT LIFE REMEMBERED. Another memoir. Written by the girl's mother, don't remember her name.

ECHOES OF A SUMMER. This was a novelization of a movie starring Jodie Foster. Jodie is a young teen with a disease. Her parents and friends are falling apart, but she is stoic. She sets them straight by her example of dignity and courage.

A SUMMER TO DIE. A novel by Lois (THE GIVER) Lowry. 2 sisters, one's popular, the other is quite eclipsed by the popular one & a little jealous. Guess what? The popular sister gets leukemia.

After devouring all these books, I was terrified but wanted more. Somehow, I found John Gunther's DEATH BE NOT PROUD at the library. Another memoir, dead (15) teenager, chronicled by his famous journalist father.


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