Written by India Desjardins Illustrated by Marianne Ferrer Translated by Solange Ouellet
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (2019, first published 2012) Original Title: Une histoire de cancer qui finit bien
ISBN: 178603977X (ISBN13: 9781786039774). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
I found this graphic novel on display in our Singapore library’s new acquisitions, and I am so glad that I took it home. It shows how love can transform something dire to something beautiful. While not reinventing womanity as a whole, love was able to transform a young teenage girl from someone who is hopeless, sick, and dying – to one who is hopeful, recovering, and glowing with love.
Not only was the story riveting and real, it was also not overly dramatized – just unapologetically true. While this is a tale that has been told countless of times before, I believe it was the art that also blindsided me, making me shed tears as I was reading this in public. It was heartfelt and credible.
I also appreciated how it broke some of the misconceptions about what people think cancer survivors need to hear. Sometimes even the most well-meaning sentiments can hurt and raise expectations that needlessly add pressure and anxiety.
Then there is the transformative and healing power of love. While seemingly trite and coming from out of nowhere, I began to perceive the story differently when I read how this story came about in the Afterword.
A few years ago, best-selling author India Desjardins was on a visit to a hospital in Montreal, Quebec. There, she met a 10-year-old girl with leukemia. The girl told her that she was fed up. All the stories about children like her who had cancer had sad endings, so she didn’t want to read them. She asked India to write a story about cancer with a happy ending instead, one with laughter and romance.
Here is that story. It is filled with hope, deliverance, beauty, and love. Always, there shall be love.
#WomenReadWomen2019: Both author and illustrator are from Canada.