It’s been six months since the Connollys’ father took off and never came back. And now they are all falling apart. Whitney had a breakdown, and now needs medication to keep herself together, although that medication has a bizarre side effect, and causes hallucinations that make her feel like life is a musical. The youngest, Sam, feels ignored and neglected, while twins Jason and Lexi cope in their own ways—Jason by turning his back on his beloved baseball, and Lexi by seeking attention from the wrong kinds of guys. And Keith struggles with anger over giving up college to pick up the pieces. The kids need to find their father, and fast, but can they pull together to do so?
Jen Calonita’s Side Effects is a much deeper novel than readers might be led to believe by the description on the book’s cover. Whitney’s hallucinations do certainly add a fun and unique angle to the siblings’ problems, but they are by no means the central issue of the story, just as Whitney is not solely the main character. This book explores complex sibling relationships, faith (or lack thereof) in one’s parents, love, loss, bullying, and so many more important topics that it’s hard to believe they are all so seamlessly interwoven into one story.
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