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Book Club: Brave Enough, Chapters 9-11

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading Brave Enough by Kati Gardner!   Catch up on Chapter 1, Chapters 2-5, and Chapters 6-8.

Week 4: Chapters 9-11

Commentary by Taylor K.:

Chapter 9 starts with Davis waking up in the hospital after things went south with Ethan. He doesn’t have a great relationship with the law, so he is debating telling his parents and the police what really happened. Cason visits and he tells her the truth. The next day, Cason’s counts start to plummet so she is getting a blood transfusion. Heather and Davis stop by to distract her from the blood. They decide to play Uno and make a bet about shaving Cason’s head. She loses the game (and the bet) almost on purpose to finally have some control in her life.

I really resonated with those feelings. When I started losing my hair, I was in shock for a bit. I thought maybe it would stop before it got too bad? The realization that that definitely wouldn’t happen then brought on the same control thoughts that Cason had. This is what I had control of so my husband and I blasted some music and made it a party. Bon Voyage, hair!

This section ends with Dr. Henderson looking over Davis himself and talking about what happened. Dr. H. gave his support and reasoning for Davis to tell the truth. Afterwards, Cason and Davis agree to make yet another bet over Uno about going to the cops. Davis loses but like Cason, doesn’t really mind following through with the bet.

Commentary by Krystal H.:

These chapters contain one of my favorite scenes in the book—the shaving scene!

I connected with this scene on multiple levels. It seems to be something that Cason is open to doing, but there’s the issue of her mom’s approval and Cason’s own reluctance to go through with it. Then comes along Davis, with a silly card game and a gentle push to finally do it in the guise of a bet.

Sometimes, that sort of light-hearted support is what we need to actually do something that’s good for us, but that we’re also reluctant to do. I definitely needed something along those lines when I was starting my diagnosis process. I didn’t want to go to the doctor about the lump in my neck, and my friends lovingly chided me into downloading an app to search for doctors in the area.

The shaving scene itself was adorable. I almost wished I had decided to shave my head, instead of just letting everything fall out. In the end, I think just letting it go was my way of dealing with that aspect of the cancer experience, and I’m happy with my decision. I think I needed a slow goodbye to the super-long hair that I’d carried around all my life. Watching it fall away, in the end, was very freeing.

Speaking of different ways to deal with things, I feel like Cason’s mom really illustrates just how hard it is for some family members/friends to come to grips with what’s happening to their loved ones. I have so many friends whose families don’t get it, or who don’t want to acknowledge the trauma that cancer causes. I had friends who couldn’t seem to come to grips with it, too. Cason, in these chapters, is acknowledging what’s happening to her in a healthy way, accepting the things she can and cannot change—and acting on it.

Her mom, on the other hand, is still trying to hold on to normalcy when things just aren’t normal anymore. Even though she’s a frustrating character, I’m glad she’s written like that. I feel like sometimes we just expect family members to automatically be super supportive and accepting, but they’re people too, with their own mess and character flaws and issues to deal with. Acceptance from family members isn’t always forthcoming, and this is reality for a number of my cancer friends. I feel like Cason’s mom’s struggle with acceptance over her daughter’s illness quite nicely illustrates the complexities of such a situation—simultaneously conveying the pain felt by Cason at her mom’s denial, while also clearly showing her mother’s love for her.

Join in next Monday for the comments and discussion on chapters 12-15!

We will talk about a few chapters each Monday until the book is done. If Monday happens to be a holiday, then the post will publish on Tuesday. Once we finish the book, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss. We’ll also have a video chat book club discussion at the end! Join in, in the comments every week! Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us!  Excited about the young adult cancer book club?  Have any suggestions for future reads?  Let us know!