Finding Balance

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Pub Date 29 Sep 2020 | Archive Date 10 Sep 2020

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Jase Ellison doesn’t remember having acute lymphocytic leukemia when he was three years old. His cancer diagnosis only enters his mind twice a year: once at his yearly checkup at the oncology clinic and one when he attends Camp Chemo in the summer. No one in his “real” life knows about his past, especially his friends at Atlanta West Prep. 
Mari Manos has never been able to hide her cancer survivorship. She wakes every morning, grabs her pink forearm clip crutches, and starts her day. Mari loves Camp Chemo—where she’s developed a healthy crush on fellow camper Jase. At Camp, she knows that she’ll never get “the look” or have to explain her amputation to anyone. 
Jase wants to move on, to never reveal his past. But when Mari transfers to his school, he knows she could blow his cover. That’s the last thing he wants, but he also cannot ignore his attraction to her. Mari wants to be looked at like a girl, a person, and not only known for her disability. But how do you move on from cancer when the world won’t let you?
Jase Ellison doesn’t remember having acute lymphocytic leukemia when he was three years old. His cancer diagnosis only enters his mind twice a year: once at his yearly checkup at the oncology clinic...

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ISBN 9781635830521
PRICE $11.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 95 members

Featured Reviews

I received this book having never heard of the author or reading any of her work. It always makes me wary as a reader to step out of my comfort zone to read something I’m not familiar with. I’m a reader who invests myself into what I read, so I usually don’t take it lightly.

I’m so glad I took that leap and trusted my gut on this book.

I’ve never read a story like Finding Balance and I think it was a big reason I liked it so much. This was real life fiction where we see real life struggles. Stories of choosing how one wants to define themselves, of personal growth, how important peer support can be, and of young love. The fact that it wasn’t in first person writing, which is what I typically read, didn’t phase me at all. Usually I find myself struggling through third person, but his one was smooth sailing.

While I loved the story plot and completely adored Mari and Jase, I was touched the most at how personal this book was to the author. I was amazed, that while this story was total fiction to me, to someone else it was filled with very real truths. Humbling is the best word I can use to describe that feeling. I even went as far as to read the acknowledgements — which I NEVER do. Never.

I loved the unique story and the characters. I loved the obvious heart the author poured into the pages. I would definitely recommend it to others and I look forward to reading more from this author. Thank you for making this story feel so personal.

Another thank you to Net Galley and Flux publishing for the opportunity to read such a great story.

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I thought this was super cute. It had good things, and some not-so-good things, but overall I enjoyed this book and am glad I had the chance to read it. I actually received this as an ARC from the publisher and net galley, but this did not impact my review.

The good
It was a quick easy read.
I liked the writing - I could really picture the characters and the world they were in.
I giggled out loud at times with how clever Mari could be.
I loved the individual stories of each character.

The not-so-good
I didn't always like Jase - I thought he was a bit of a jerk, at times. I know he apologized, but he wasn't as sympathetic as the author probably intended.
Yes, high school kids are mean, but I had a hard time believing the mean girls - nobody is really that mean or stupid, are they?

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this, and devoured it pretty quickly.

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Super-realistic when dealing with such serious matters, yet touching and emotional in so many ways! “Finding Balance”, by Kati Gardner (Flux), could be hard to read, but there’s so much hope in these characters, particularly in brave Mari. The leads’ personal and unique stories are more interesting and genuine than the romantic relationship, which is sweet but has some dimensions I didn’t like (Jason’s nastiness towards Mari, Mari’s doormat tendencies sometimes). But all in all an amazing, gripping story.
Kudos for Kati Gardner for having written this story with these characters and for giving so much of herself to us, readers.

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Finding balance what a great title considering it was the right balance of a terrific book. Great down to earth up lifting characters and an amazing story what’s not to like about this one. I believe it’s s story for all age groups and genders.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Mari is a teenage girl that had cancer. Jace is a fellow survivor but unlike Mari, he kept it a secret from his friends and schoolmates. They met at Camp Chemo, a summer camp where kids who have had or are going through chemotherapy can feel at home and have a normal stay with the proper care and safety precautions. Mari is also an amputee, due to an infection, which makes things harder for her. When Mari moves to the school that Jace attends he fears that she might be the thing that will reveal his secret.

I thought the way the author described the struggles both main characters go through was very appropriate and well done. The relationship between them was really cute, and even though it’s a classic trope, it felt new. The plot was interesting, but I predicted most of it and it was a little cliche. We also get to see a glimpse of the relationship that the characters have with their families and their teachers. They all felt believable and authentic, and it was also nice to see the perspective of the parents on what their children had to deal with. This book was overall diverse, had good representation and delt with difficult topics and body positivity. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think that this story deserves to be heard.
This review was also posted on my blog. The link is included.

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This is an original and charming book. The main characters might not seem very relatable to a lot of readers - they are both young cancer survivors - but the emotions are well drawn, and the details are vivid. The story brings in themes of identity, class, breaking through from childhood to adulthood, body image and family.

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It is an incredible book. Each page is filled with raw emotions. My stomach was in knots the whole time I was reading it. The novel makes a reader feel everything as if it all was happening with him/her.
Finding Balance shows us how the main characters deal not only with cancer but also with stupidity, ugliness, hardheartedness and ignorance of real world.
Moreover, it is a very beautiful love story. Not easy, not predictable, without any cliché manwhore-billionaires and damsels in distress.
In my opinion, it is a must-read for everyone and one of the best emotional books of 2019.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

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I liked this book!

Overall, it was a great read. I think Mari is a cute protagonist, and her quirks and wit were delightful. Admittedly, I think the romance was a bit problematic as Jason was not always kind and has some aggression there.

The mean girls also were a little TOO over the top and cliche to enjoy reading about.
All in all, though, I enjoyed this read.

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Finding Balance by Kati Gardner is an upcoming YA contemporary novel set for publication in May 2020. It follows two teens - Mari and Jace - as they reunite after summer camp for young people with cancer and the struggles they face dealing with their condition(s) and learning to embrace themselves.

I was so excited to hear that this was a sequel to Brave Enough. I read that book last year and absolutely adored it. Saying that, you can read this as a standalone. Coming from an #ownvoices author, I loved hearing about the characters experiences with cancer and the difficulties they faced at school, the community and within themselves. I have not had personal experience with cancer/amputation myself, however; as someone who lives with a physical disability themselves, I really connected with Mari's experience of bullying - people asking inconsiderate/inappropriate questions and neither characters feeling of being classed as "disabled enough", yet are still impacted greatly by their condition(s). Only small qualm I have with this book is that I always didn't agree with Mari's/Jace's actions towards one another. Saying that, I understand the protagonists are younger than me and I would have done the same at their age, realistically.

I am so happy this came in to existence and I can't wait to read more from this author - 4.5 stars

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This was a really sweet and at the same time heartbreaking and empowering story. Although it is fiction, it still felt real because these are real-life struggles. I am sure the author used many of her personal experiences to inform the story and that gave it a rich depth.
Mari was a champion of a character. Despite the fact that people continued to degrade her for her physical appearance, she kept her pride and continued to soldier on. In the book, she keeps saying how she’s not some sort of hero, but I think this previous fact makes her a hero. At times, even those with less challenging situations are not as strong as her.
At the beginning, I totally disliked Jase. However, I did eventually warm up to him. I think, though, that the transition from them being hostile to liking each other was a little quick. Suddenly, they were totally in love and I still had 30% of the novel to go. With that said, I did find that there was a good deal of unnecessary dialogue and this made the story drag. Other than that, though, the plot was fairly solid.

Unfortunately, this was not a clean read. There was a fair amount of coarse language.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC.

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I really liked this book, I think overall it was a very entertaining and fun read. It is a beautiful story of two teenagers who's lives have been forever affected by cancer. I think what was very special about this book is that it is not a cancer book, but rather a what comes next. It explores the lives of these teenagers after their battle with cancer, how they choose to live their lives, and how they choose that cancer does not define their lives. Besides the wonderful story being told, I loved the characters. The story is told in the point of views of Mari, who is a fierce cancer survivor who lost her leg in the process, but does not let that stop her from doing anything. Then we have Jase who is also a survivor of cancer, but he struggles with defining his truth and letting others know the truth about his cancer. I really enjoyed this book, so if you are looking for a heartfelt, beautiful, and fun story then this one is for you!

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**I received a free ARC copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

This. Book. Was amazing. I can't say I know what it's like to be a cancer survivor, but I'm the sister of an ulcerative colitis warrior and the daughter of a thyroid cancer survivor, and cancer in various ways has affected my family and friends. I, myself have ADHD. I know what it's like to want to prove people wrong and to do things just because someone says you can't. Mari wears her cancer diagnosis on her sleeve - or leg - literally. She's an amputee. Jase, on the other hand, has very little memories of his time as a cancer patient when he was three. He makes sure to keep that little secret tucked away - it happened so long ago that the only time he brings it up is for that one week in the summer at camp. Their friendship is so easy and those sparks are flying before we even meet them. I laughed at this book so many times and I wanted to throw something at Jase's face and yell at him just before Mari took words right out of my mouth! 5 starts 10/10 would recommend. It's a lighter cancer read, if that's a thing. There is a HEA and the characters are pretty well developed. I haven't read the first book (Davis's story) but he's in this book quite a bit as well so characters overlap which I like.

(Mini rant here about the assistant principal from a special education teacher)
I DO have to say that not only as a decent person but as a special education teacher, Mari's assistant principal should be fired.He REALLY does not know his place. In no way should an education professional EVER try to force a student to buy an expensive prosthetic or a wheelchair OR be given the ultimatum of that or being placed in a self-contained classroom when the student is cognitively and developmentally reaching or exceeding the standards. First off, you can't just place a student in a self-contained classroom without a ton of data and second - in what world would a student who is developmentally and cognitively on the same level as her able-bodied peers want to be in a self-contained classroom? Good for Kati for writing Mari's parents as the best advocates <3

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Finding balance by Kati Gardner .

Mari is an adolescent cancer victim attending High School. Due to her illness she has had a leg amputated but due circumstances her choice is not to wear a prosthetic limb and she copes really well with the every day life of a teenager . She is knocked over by 2 boys fighting in the corridor, then later that day slipped on a grape dropped on the floor. The school tell her she must wear a prosthetic or leave the school & all her friends. She leaves having obtained a scholarship to a private high school . On arriving there she sees an old friend who didn’t know they attended the school, who ignores her & she doesn’t know why. It transpires that Jase is also had cancer & is in remission but no one knows. It’s a journey about friendship and Mari's fight not to be treated with pity and seen as a victim.

A very well written book about adolescence and it’s hidden pitfalls and a journey of friendship.

Loved it and it makes you think about society & how we treat people who are slightly different through no fault of their own. Very enjoyable

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This is an enjoyable read, despite the dark themes within. Being able to move on is a luxury that Jase has and wants to keep. Mari was not so lucky and has a constant physical reminder of what she has been through. Despite their different experiences love blossoms and changes them both. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC egalley.

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it did not disappoint! Though I had some issues with Jase, there was so much good about this book that I can overlook it.

I really liked how it dealt with cancer. It was very realistic without it being a downer and controlling the whole story. Besides cancer, Jase and Mari are just two teenagers with a complicated relationship and I'm all for it.

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An incredibly sweet story of love of all kinds, and a fantastic ownvoices portrayal of cancer and disability. The main characters have great chemistry, and Mari’s voice is unflinchingly strong. Sweet and steely all at once.

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~~I have received the ARC thanks to NetGalley in exchange for my honest review~~

This is my first ARC copy I have received, and it was a book I have read that was going to come out this year and I wanted to read it, so I was excited.

While reading the book midway through it I was thinking how detailed the description of the amputation and the knowledge about how she manages in her life. So I checked to see the background of the author and discovered she herself is an amputee and cancer survivor I just understood and started reading the book with a complete point of view, and just took it as a life experience of a real individual not just another book about an illness.

The book gives you a perspective to how life for them is. I learned that they don’t want to be an example, and I myself am guilty of just placing them as a life example, this changes my whole perspective. I liked how it show two different point of view of two types of cancers and how it affected their life’s in different ways. It mentions the struggles of Health Care and the costs of it, touching the reality of so many people out there in the United States and other countries that have the same issues.

Regarding the love story it does have some clichés but it’s pretty warm and it does have self-love making the female protagonist have independency and not agree on all of what the male says even do she is completely in love of him.

In resume I loved this book it was a nice warm book and I am eager to read Brave Enough that is the previous saga book. I give this book 4 stars

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Wait, before you close out of this tab, you need to know that this isn't your typical cancer story. It is so much more. It is a story of overcoming your past. It is a story of choosing how to see life. It is a story I won't forget.
The characters were fantastic. Their thoughts and emotions were expressed so clearly and I felt like I knew them in real life.
One thing that I loved seeing was the Bible verses subtly woven throughout.
My only complaint about this book is the language. It could have easily done without it.
This book is technically the second book of the series but works well as a standalone.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find the first book of the series.

Rating: 5 Stars
Content: 2 Stars

*I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. All thoughts are my own and a positive review was not required.

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“‘I don’t do the impossible,’ she whispered hotly. ‘I live life as someone who is disabled. That is not worthy of any praise.’”
I received this copy as an e-arc from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Mari has lived with one leg for a few years now, after contracting an infection after a limb-sparing surgery - an attempt to remove the cancer without taking the limb. During summer, she spends a week each year at Camp Chemo; a place where kids who have or have had cancer can be just kids. At Camp Chemo, her best friend is Jase. While they don’t keep in contact during the school year, each summer they settle back into familiar patterns. When circumstances necessitate that Mari change schools, she is excited that she will get to see Jase daily, but when she arrives at her new school, Jase - sorry, Jason - pretends not to know her. He has a secret to protect, after all: No-one at his school knows he had cancer as a child.
This book was great. OK, sure, Jase was a bit of a dick, but who isn’t? Having cancer, trying to be a “normal” teenager when you have a history of being bullied because of being “diseased”, going to an upper class school where looks and money matter more than who you are; who wouldn’t be worried about what people think?
I won’t try and excuse the way Jase - sorry, Jason - acted. He was a prick, and he treated Mari absolutely awfully. However, you’re not meant to like all the characters! I bet you a million that you do not get along with every single person that you meet. It’s just not how life works, and I have to say that I appreciate authors who put characters who are not perfect in their stories. I understand some people chose to stop reading because of Jason, and his behaviour, but personally, it was a non-issue for me. I liked that we left things not in the perfect happily-ever-after-all-is-forgiven stereotype that we so often find in books for children and teens. The messages we get from the media and movies where everything is perfect at the end - think every Disney movie, ever - is more harmful than helpful as we grow. Kati Gardner has done a wonderful service by writing characters who are flawed.
I read the acknowledgement at the back of this book. I love that the author acknowledges that she is not the be all and end all of being an amputee; that she took the initiative to have the story checked by others despite being an #ownvoices cancer amputee. I also love love love the cover; it's so rare to see a person with a disability visibly portrayed on a cover.
As someone with a medical background, I really appreciated the medical words without info - emesis, not puke; cardiomyopathy. It felt to me like a good way to potentially stretch the reader without being too overwhelming.
This book had me reaching for my highlighter (digitally, not on my actual book - I know some people would think I was a monster for writing in actual books… but that’s another post!). The author touched on many issues that able-bodied persons may not understand, including
“‘You know, the ‘the only disability is a bad attitude’ person.’ Mari rolled her eyes. ‘To quote Stella Young, ‘No amount of a positive attitude has turned a set of stairs into a ramp.’ ‘Inspiration porn,’ Paige interjected.’”
“‘I have a very different story as a mom of a cancer survivor, but I can never understand what it’s like to be a cancer survivor. I can never speak for you.’”
“It’s his story.’ She shrugged.’ I don’t mind you asking me questions; it’s how you learn. It only bothers me when strangers demand to know something really intimate’”
Content Warning: Medical discussions, hospital scenes, ableism
#ownvoices - Cancer Survivor, amputee
Rating; 5/5

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I really enjoyed reading this story. The characters are so well developed, they seem real. I love how they interact together. Truly an awesome book.

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AD | This advance copy was kindly gifted by NetGalley
and North Star Editions for an honest review.

Prior to reading Finding Balance, I hadn’t actually read of Kati Gardner’s books or heard of her work!

That has definitely changed now I’ve read this book and fallen in love with the characters she has created. When I saw this up for grabs on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. It had such a intriguing plot and unique compared to most books out right now.

You not only have characters who have been through cancer, but you also have the main character Mari who lost a leg to it. It always makes me super happy when I see a disabled character leading the plot and I just loved the determination of Mari. She didn’t let missing a leg stop her from getting around. You felt enraged with her when she gets targeted for being different.

I related to this so much!

I also related with Jase as well in the fact that he tries to hide his differences and seem ‘normal’. I can safely say that being normal is over-rated! Finding Balance literally had me hooked from the first page and I had no problem at all reading the entire book in one day. I couldn’t put it down!

I’ll be making sure to find the first book in the series so I can be up-to-date.

Everyone should pre-order this book, especially if you’ve been through similar situations. You’ll find all of the characters really developed and that all of them have a vital role to the plot! Finding Balance will be released on 5th May so check it out!

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