“Your daughter has suffered massive head trauma,” Or Somewhere Between Life & Death

It’s been a while since I’ve done any death-porn-for-teens, so I thought I’d whip out a quick Lurlene McDaniel post.  I was surprised on re-reading this that this book is way less cringe-worthy than the other L McD books I’ve re-read.  The dialogue is still shitty, of course, and the main character behaves in a way that is totally bizarre.  But it somehow seems a little less heavy-handed than her others.

It’s not even a bad cover for a Lurlene book!

Erin and Amy Bennett are sisters and only fifteen months apart in age. They suffer from “Wakefield Twin Syndrome.” That is, one (Erin) is an Elizabeth and the other (Amy) is a Jessica.  Erin is a good dancer and Amy is a good actress.  How do we know that Erin and Amy are so different? Because of Lurlene’s time-honored tradition of exposition through clunky dialogue:

Amy flounced on her bed, sending pillows and clothes flying. “One of us is neat and orderly, and one of us isn’t.” She smiled innocently.

“It’s nothing to brag about, you know.”

Amy jumped off the bed and hauled Erin next to her in front of the mirror. “Look at us, Erin. You’re tall, blond and graceful, and I’m – well- short, round, and fully-packed,” she patted her hips.

Anyway, we learn a lot of things through clunky dialogue-driven exposition. Such as their mom owns a clothing boutique, Amy has a boyfriend name hotty-hot-hot Travis, and Amy volunteers at The Children’s Home (??) as a clown.

The girls’ school has a recital coming up, where Erin is dancing to some piece while her best friend Shara is singing along and Amy is doing a dramatic reading.  All at the same time. I don’t get it either. And Amy’s main character trait – that she’s late to everything, pisses Erin off constantly.  Also pissing Erin off constantly is that she has a crush on hotty-hot-hot Travis, but can’t tell anyone because he’s Amy’s boyfriend.

The recital happens and it’s a huge success!  Because of course it is.  The drama teacher wants Erin to try out for a summer dance program at Wolftrap in DC. So there’s a big celebration afterwards and they run out of beer soda. Erin is all set to go get more beer soda, but Amy BEGS to be allowed to go since she just got her drivers’ license.  It’s pouring rain out, but steady responsible Erin sees nothing at all wrong with handing over her keys to an inexperienced driver.

We know this ends badly because A-It’s the Lurlene-verse and B-we can see a girl in a coma on the cover of the book.  So, basically, it ends badly. Amy, not wearing a seatbelt, crashes into a tree and ends up in a coma.

Then there’s a whole lot of book that involves them waiting in the hospital.  A lot. Some good medical jargon is thrown in there, including an explanation of the glasgow scale. Amy’s initial Glasgow score is 1-1-3.  Not so good. Erin makes a friend in the waiting room, Beth.  Beth’s mom is on dialysis and will die if she can’t find an organ donor.  (FORESHADOWING ALERT!!!!)

Hotty-hot-hot Travis shows up at the hospital, but freaks out and says he will never go back until Amy’s all better. But Amy doesn’t get better.  She’s downgraded to a 1-1-2 on the Glasgow scale and the Bennett family has to start thinking about what to do if Amy either dies or is vegetative for the rest of her life.  Also, in a scene that’s actually kind of sweet, Erin decides to take Amy’s place as a clown for this show for the Children’s Home. It’s way out of Erin’s comfort zone, but it was sweet of her to go. And she meets a boy there, David, who is the other clown in the act.  But she never sees him without his clown makeup, but he sure is sweet.

Then Beth’s mom gets a kidney and Erin is all “yay!”  But right after that, Amy is downgraded again to 1-1-1, and is declared brain dead. And Erin and her parents meet with the organ donor guys and Erin absolutely refuses to allow Amy’s organs to be donated. And this is where the book gets really odd. Because Erin’s point that they’re giving up on Amy is valid (or at least, realistic). But instead of focusing on that, Erin flies off the handle about the organ retrieval and how ghoulish it is. Even though, she was just thrilled about it, like one chapter ago.  And she also finds out that Travis is taking another girl to the big school dance.  And instead of being like, ‘wow, what a dick,’ she acts completely out of character and goes to confront him and throws this teddy bear he’d bought for Amy at him.

And yeah, Travis is not dealing well at all. And he doesn’t need to work on moving on quite so….publicly. But Erin is portrayed as someone….not like Erin was at the beginning of the book.

She comes around on the organ donation thing though. So they take Amy’s organs and have a nice funeral for her.  And that’s the end……or is it? I had totally forgotten that this book has a sequel, featuring Erin and clown-boy David.  I’m gonna search for it, and soon you will be reading a recap of Time to Let Go.


About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
This entry was posted in Angst, Lurlene McDaniel, Sibling Rivalry. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “Your daughter has suffered massive head trauma,” Or Somewhere Between Life & Death

  1. Akilah says:

    I read that one! And I know because all I really remember about it is the clown thing.

  2. Thank sweet baby Jesus for that dialogue. Without it, I’d never know what was going on.

  3. Karen says:

    Oh my God. I love the phrase “death porn for teens.” It’s so true, except that I was in older elementary and middle school when I read these. I loved this book AND Time to Let Go, so pleaseeee hurry with your recap for that one. I sometimes want to smack Erin, though.

  4. Liz says:

    I remember reading this book in junior high. So weird to see how much I remember. Yikes on that dialogue!

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