Radiate: Marley Gibson

I love this cover.  It looks so hopeful.  Definitely not what you think of when you think of a cancer book.


I usually try to avoid reading books about cancer.  Reading is an escape for me, I try to get away from my problems when diving into books not to be reminded that life can sometimes really suck.  But I couldn’t help but be drawn towards Marley Gibson’s Radiate which was why I requested it from Net Galley.  I have read about Marley’s fight with cancer as a teen and was interested in reading a book based on her experiences.  Yep, that’s right, Radiate is based on a true story.

General Summary: Hayley Mathews wants something more.

Well, Hayley gets her something more.  She becomes a cheerleader and is on the cusp of popularity when she finds a lump in her leg.  Yep, Hayley has cancer and the rest of the book is spent with her dealing with her prognosis then recuperating and recovering.

General Review: I liked a lot of things about this book.  I thought it had a great message.  Having a positive attitude is probably the best and in some cases the only way to fight cancer (besides having a kick ass oncologist) and Haley definitely  has it.  Occasionally though Hayley come off a bit Pollyanna-ish and makes the reader want her to just let it all out.  Even with the most positive of attitudes there are days you’re just going to feel like shit with cancer and just need to have a pity party.  Also I thought the subplots, particularly with Hayley’s friend’s uncle and her family’s finances and sister stuck out like a sore thumb.  Often plot points would be dropped for fifty or so pages before being picked up again.

Best Feature: Cancer awareness.  I love the fact that the book brings up the topic of cancer awareness.  It doesn’t try to sugar coat how much cancer sucks either.  It gets into the nitty gritty of what sort of shit someone has to experience when fighting this  awful disease.  And I commend Marley for that.  Anyone who has had or has had a love one or friend that has suffered through this disease knows it’s not like it is on television.  It’s  like  running one awful never ending marathon through hell.  And I think Marley did an excellent job showing Hayley’s struggle with her disease and her recovery.

Worse Feature: Fake: Sometimes the writing just came off fake.  I hate to say this.  I know this book was based on a true story, but parts of the book sound force.  Take Hayley for instance.  I loved her for the most part.  But she should’ve been allowed to mope a little more than she did.  A positive attitude is great, but she had cancer.  She should be expected to yell a little bit without her mom instantly reprimanding her.  If I was Hayley’s mom I would’ve bought her a giant tub of Snickers Ice Cream or whatever she could stuff down without getting sick and let her cry it out for as long as she wanted.  Besides not allowing Hayley some much needed wallowing time, often the dialogue seemed like it was trying to hard to sound teen like which is a shame because there were parts of the book where the voice was so authentic.  I just wanted that voice all the time.

Appropriateness: This book is very tame.  I actually would recommend teens to read it because of the issues it talks about.  There are a few party scenes and some kissing, but that’s about it.

Blockbuster Worthy:  Hmm, well maybe.  It’s an inspiring story.  And Hollywood does like a good tearjerker.

Hayley: Shailene Woodley: She has grown in acting skills since her days on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  And she does look like how I picture Hayley.

Gabriel: Darren Criss perhaps.  Really, he wasn’t ever described in much detail physically, so i’m just going to use Darren as a dreamy placeholder.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it seven out of ten cartwheels.  Mainly, because I really appreciate it’s message that it’s trying to give out and it gives a pretty realistic look to cancer without being cliche.

Note, I received my copy of copy of Radiate through Net Galley.  This did not affect my review.


4 thoughts on “Radiate: Marley Gibson

  1. I would. It really is pretty good and a good overview of the subject matter without being that preachy. I've read much, much worse books that deal with serious subject matters. I think for me my faults with it were more from personal experiences. I've known who suffered from a similar situation and while he kept a pretty good attitude throughout his ordeal, but there were days he just had to breakdown. It was just human nature. If Marley had somehow been able to capture these moments in the story I think I would've had even greater appreciation for the book. Still though, I think it's a good one to pick up. It has a really good message.

  2. Thanks for your review. Sorry you felt Hayley came off as fake…or the story was fake. Please know that this book is based on my own personal experience with cancer when I was a teenager. The positive attitude and never giving up is why I'm not only here today, but I have a leg and walk without a limp. Hayley had plenty of breakdown moments in the book…but it was never letting the situation get her down that kept her going…kept her focused and helped her to radiate.Thanks again and all the best!Marley Gibsonwww.radiatebook.com

  3. Thanks for your comments. I liked Hayley's attitude overall. There were just parts of it that conflicted with my own personal experiences. Someone very close to me suffered and passed away from AML and although he kept a positive attitude throughout most of his experiences, there were just times he broke down. I think I kept thinking of his experience throughout the book, hence my reaction. I really did like the book though and I'm glad you shared your story with the world. Despite my nitpicking at it, I really did enjoy it and do recommend it.

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