Side Effects May Vary

Side Effects May Vary

3.43 (13,368 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$17.99

Currently unavailable

We can notify you when this item is back in stock

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


The first book from Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin'--now a Netflix feature film starring Danielle Macdonald and Jennifer Aniston, with a soundtrack by Dolly Parton!

For fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell comes this powerful novel about a girl with cancer who creates a take-no-prisoners bucket list that sets off a war at school--only to discover she's gone into remission.

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge as it is about hope.

But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she's said and done.

Contemporary realistic fiction readers who love romantic stories featuring strong heroines will find much to savor in this standout debut.
show more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 150 x 213 x 30mm | 408g
  • United States
  • English
  • 006224535X
  • 9780062245359
  • 226,633

Back cover copy

What if you'd been living your life as if you were dying--only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs--however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the con-sequences of all that she's said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her--and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy's Side Effects May Vary is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
show more

Review quote

"Julie Murphy's SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a funny, heartfelt, honest look at the beauty and the risk of getting a second chance. An inspiring novel about all the things worth living for. I adored this debut!"--Siobhan Vivian, author of The List
show more

Rating details

13,368 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 17% (2,303)
4 31% (4,120)
3 34% (4,597)
2 13% (1,730)
1 5% (618)

Our customer reviews

3.75 I wanted to read Side Effects May Vary because I am a sucker for an emotional book. Anything about cancer or illness just screams my name and I have never really been able to put a finger on it besides the fact that I am a reader, and we all have things that push our buttons. Side Effects May Vary is told in dual perspective, from Alice the main character with cancer who suddenly finds out she is in a miraculous remission. And also from Harvey, the boy who has love her forever, and helps her with her Dying to do list. They grew up together so the dynamics between them are complicated especially since they grew apart in high school. Alice got a jock boyfriend who she later found out things about and Harvey pretty much just stayed the same. But when Alice finds out she is sick, Harvey is the first person she goes to. At times, it was hard for me to still even really like and respect Alice though because when she found out she was in remission, we don't get her side of it, and she starts avoiding Harvey. I think that she often really takes advantage of Harvey, knowing his feelings for her, and she just takes him along for the ride. But as I continued reading about her, I realized that it was all defensive. Due to her personality and some of the things she'd seen in her life, she is afraid of feelings and commitments, so while I still don't agree with how mean she is and how she takes advantage of her close relationship with Harvey, I understand. I also see some character growth in her, that she realizes what she's doing, and that she isn't the person she wants to be inside. The transformation was so slow, especially when she is given a new lease on life, and nothing has an expiration date anymore. That is the other thing about Side Effects May Vary, it is told in the then and the now, with the now starting right before she found out that she was in remission. So, in some of the time we get Alice's then while Harvey's now and I didn't really know why she was avoiding except maybe fear and not knowing what to do with herself with time she thought she would not have. At one point she said a really profound thing about she had come to terms with being sick and dying and now the future and the not knowing was completely overwhelming to her. The then and now was a good format for this though because we see how things are and also what happened to lead Alice and Harvey to that point. Overall, I really liked their romance, they had a lot of history and chemistry, and I knew that what they felt was strong even if at times, neither of them went about it in the right way. But I think that Alice's fear of committment was really drawn out and it took a lot for her to get around it. Here's a great example of her voice and how she would tell the truth to Harvey, which made me feel a little less sorry for him at times, because Alice didn't lie about what she was dealing with and he knew her personality. â??You freak the **** out of me, Harvey. I donâ??t get itâ??how you can feel like there are no consequences for living with your feelings on your sleeve. Because there are, you know. There are consequences so horrible, and I wish I could ignore them like you canâ??the feelings and their consequences. I wish it didnâ??t matter to me.â?? I like the other touches in the book, such as Alice's dancing, her rivalry with Celeste, as well as Harvey's relationship with his mom and the extension of his piano playing and getting his independence through quitting and getting a job. Side Effects May Vary was different from what I expected, and while I flew through the book, it wasn't the emotional hard hitter in the way that I thought it would be. There is still some ups and downs, but it is more a look at the lives of two people, seeing how they deal with illness, family issues, and their long standing friendship and feelings of love and not knowing what to do with it. Another thing that I had an issue with was her miraculous intermission. One day she was at death's door and the next, the doctor told her she was in remission. But I could mostly ignore it for the unique angle it gave on the book--about how cancer's presence or lack of could really effect people. But I do think that it is a neat angle to take on the whole sick girl theme. That she was ready to die and then all of the sudden healthy and life being thrown at her quickly. She is having to think about college, and what she wants for her life, and also facing some of the consequences from her dying to do list. Which were pretty epic and also some cruel. She says and acts in some ways, and it was hard to see how it effected Harvey and she had no idea. But the girls in this were some serious mean girls and boy. They received it but also dished it back out in some pretty horrific ways. But it really showed some big growth in Harvey when he stood up to her about it and gave her a choice and walked away, leaving things on her court. The ending was good for the story, and it showed that Alice really was changing and trying to do things the right way, not only to get Harvey, but for herself and for her family. It showed Harvey standing up for himself despite being hurt and still loving Alice. And it gave a glimpse of what their happily ever afters could look like without knotting the bow and making into some epic series that follows their lives. Bottom Line: Good book that shows Alice getting a new lease on life and her love story with Harvey, the boy who was and always is in love with more
by Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books)
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) Alice has been living life without worrying about consequences, because she knows that her leukaemia will soon kill her. Then she goes into remission. What will Alice do now? And how many people has she used and alienated while she thought it didn’t matter? This started off good, but I lost interest half way through, and the ending was a bit of a let-down. Alice was an okay character, and I liked how she wanted to live her life without restraints because she had an expiry date. I didn’t like the way that she treated Harvey though, all she did was mess with his feelings, without admitting any of her own, which I thought was really bad. She never seemed to consider how he would feel when she died, or how he’d feel when she went into remission, she just thought about how she felt. The storyline in this was okay, but I lost interest half-way through. I thought that some of Alice’s little revenge tactics were interesting, but I hated all the dilly-dallying around, and wanted the story to move on a bit quicker. The romance in this was a bit odd. It seemed obvious that Harvey loved Alice, and Alice seemed to love Harvey in return, but then didn’t want to admit it for all sorts of reasons. The way she used him time and time again, never told him her real feelings, and then ignored him was just awful, and I really didn’t like that about her. I wanted her to just man up, and admit her feelings, especially considering the number of times he told her he loved her, but she just carried on being horrible to him. The ending of this was disappointing for me. It just didn’t feel like an end, and even though Alice did eventually do something nice for someone, based on her previous actions, I could just see her turning around and being nasty again in the next breath, and things just weren’t solid enough for me to finish this thinking that anything had changed. Overall; okay story, but the ending was disappointing. 6.75 out of more
by Sarah Elizabeth
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X