Somebody Up There Hates You
If you were seventeen and dying, what would your end-of-life “bucket list” experience be? For Richard Casey, the central character in Hollis Seamon’s young adult novel Somebody Up There Hates You, it's the perhaps expected wish to fulfill his part as a fully participating member of adult male society--having sex with a girl. The trouble is, his most likely candidate for his own deflowering is his hospice-floor neighbour: beautiful, smart, fifteen-year-old Sylvie, who is guarded by her “dragon-like” smouldering father.
The novel cracks along with a storyline and dialogue like Holden Caulfield revisited. If you’ve ever seen the movie Whose Life Is It Anyway? you’ll have an inkling of the pacts between nursing staff and patients who want to get a little of their autonomy back when faced with the uncompromising trade-offs and daily humiliations around the most personal care needs that require another person's hands.
Richard’s hospice experience is poignant rather than sad. The promise of life curtailed pricks one’s eyes with tears, but his jaunty refusal to act like a dying patient keeps the smile on your face and an appreciation for the fierce life force that keeps even the terminally ill hopeful from day to day. Definitely a read that will keep you thinking and a great jumping off point for conversations about end-of-life planning and the will to live.
- Rosslyn Bentley