Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal

There may be a lot of chronic illness books out in the wild for young adults (and adults too, let’s be honest), but there aren’t a lot that cover the realm of invisible illness. I’m excited to share one that releases this week.

Thank you Quirk Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were. Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses. When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that’s shut in the basement. With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid’s unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal.

As someone with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, POTS, and Endometriosis, it’s really exciting to see a book that includes all three and makes me feel like I could’ve written it myself. I literally was thrown back into my high school years where I did the same thing as the characters in this novel – connected with others online who struggled with chronic illness like myself. There are a few controversial reviews about this book and how it’s advertised as an #ownvoices read. I want to make clear that this is written as #ownvoices in the chronic illness realm, not necessarily in race identity. There are many reviews that provide resources to guide you in the direction about the cultural appropriation displayed in this novel and I encouraged you to read and research as such. In terms of the chronic illness portrayal and friendships developed in this book, I really liked it!

4/5 Stars

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