A tween holds on to hope as her father repeatedly battles cancer.
Ever since she was 4, Cass and her parents have attended every World Series, the trips a gift to her father from his former employer as he was fighting his second round of cancer. Now, he’s been diagnosed with yet another kind of cancer, but Cass is determined they’ll get to go one last time. On her 12th birthday, Cass learns that her dad has Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a gene mutation that makes him susceptible to cancer—and there’s a 50% chance that she has it too. Now, she must decide if she will take a test to see whether she carries a mutated p53 gene. Hope comes from a study of elephants, which have 20 sets of p53 genes—a doctor is even studying elephants at her local zoo in Utah. Beautifully told in verse, the novel contains hopeful imagery inspired by Cass’ persistence, visits to the zoo’s elephants, and the family’s faith, which is effortlessly woven into the narrative and is cued as being the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Literature rarely portrays life with someone who is immunocompromised; this story shows the limitations Cass faces at times, for example, in seeing friends and playing baseball. She’s also home-schooled in part to help keep her father safe. Cass and her family are presumed White.
Tenderly written; a heartening look at a tough reality. (author’s note) (Verse novel. 10-13)