After five years of leukemia treatments, a 15-year-old gets her prognosis.
“In just a few minutes, they’re going to tell me how much time I have left to live,” opens this slim volume holding a full-bodied story. As the narrator walks down a hospital corridor, the door at the end appears so small it almost vanishes, showing how far away her fate still feels. While waiting, she takes readers through her years of treatment, touching on medical, emotional, and social aspects as well as hospital smells and sounds. She experiences romance; she has strong but unidealized parents. Cancer clichés receive welcome push back: Her best friend’s death was “definitely not because she wasn’t strong enough or didn’t fight hard enough,” and her own process isn’t a “battle…because there was nothing I could do to fight it. All I could do was let everything happen.” The titular spoiler sets this reassuringly apart from cancer stories that lean on suspense. Ferrer illustrates every page in pen and watercolor, using mostly reds and greens of low intensity that range dramatically from pale to dark; blacks and browns are secondary. Some visual elements are unnerving and fantastical—doors and tiles at a slant, bodies boneless or full of Swiss cheese–like holes. Compositions are ever shifting. Most characters’, including the protagonist’s, skin tones range from pallor to healthy pink.
Visually dreamlike, textually grounded: a deft balance proving that a single-issue exploration needn’t be formulaic or dry. (Picture book. 9-15)