Kirkus Reviews QR Code


A Boy's Life with Epilepsy

by Robert Skead & Mike Simmel

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4338-1043-5
Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

A teen with epilepsy has fantastic basketball skills, honed by years of relentless practice, but still struggles frequently with his condition.

Fourteen-year-old Mike is about to take what might become the winning shot for his travel basketball team when he reflects back on his 12 years of living with epilepsy. His path to success has veered around roadblocks: seizures that aren’t fully controlled by his medicines, bullying at school and prejudice on the part of his coach and a few other adults. With knowledgeable parents, a good doctor and a wise counselor, he’s doing well; this aspect rings true, since one of the authors, Simmel, has had epilepsy since early childhood and is also a member of the Harlem Wizards, a performing basketball team. Stock characters and heavy-handed asides reinforce the helpful message to readers but often intrude on the storytelling unnecessarily: “His mom also reminded him that it’s normal to be embarrassed or upset if kids didn’t understand his epilepsy.” This weakness diminishes the novel’s potential to reach a broad audience. A lengthy afterward provides a wealth of accurate and useful information for patients and their families.

Thinly clad in the guise of a novel, this self-help book for kids with epilepsy offers a positive message but is unremarkable literarily. (Self-help fiction. 9-14)