Kids’ Indie Next List Pick for Spring 2021
A SIBA Read This Next Selection for Spring 2021
Teen Wolf meets Emergency Contact in this sharply observed, hilarious, and heartwarming debut young adult novel about friendship, chronic illness, and . . . werewolves.
Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were.
Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.
When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that's shut in the basement.
With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid's unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 108 members
Thanks to Quirk Books for giving me a free digital galley of this book in exchange for feedback. I loved this book! I picked it up on the strength of its cover and title, which is always risky, isn't it? But so rewarding when it pays off, like right now. I've never heard of Kristen O'Neal, and googling tells me that this is her first novel. I am prepared to preorder her second novel with no further information. "Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses" is the story of Priya, who has recently contracted chronic Lyme disease. Priya is learning to live with weakness and pain that look like they might be a permanent part of her life now. She's rethinking her future. Priya joins Oof Ouch My Bones, an online support group for people with chronic illnesses. She meets good and helpful friends there, who can sympathize and give useful advice and help one another. It's exactly what she needs. One of those friends is Brigid, who is a little bit vague about the exact nature of her chronic illness, but still a good friend to Priya. And what IS Brigid's chronic illness? It would be a spoiler to tell you, if it weren't the first word of the title: Brigid is a werewolf. This book is so warm and fun to read and full of heart, and I'd enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who lives with chronic illness or who likes their horror character-driven and full of heart. Gentle reader warning: Like many werewolf novels, this one does include a bad thing happening to an animal. But it isn't vividly described, and it isn't an animal you are emotionally attached to. You're probably okay to read this book.
This book was amazing!! I absolutely loved it. Sensitive and serious topics were handled so very well and provided insights about chronic illness that resonated with me and others that expanded my perspective. There were so many times I had to put this book down because I was laughing so hard. This book was emotional and captivating, and I only recommend reading it when you have enough time to sit down and read it properly (or else you'll find yourself clearing your schedule at the last minute to stay up late reading it like I did!). The characters were all well developed, and whilst portrayed a variety of experiences, cultures and identities were not caricatures. This has easily become one of my favourite books, especially as it juxtaposes funny light-hearted moments with emotional and realistic portrayals of chronic illness.
I loved this book. For starters, I enjoyed seeing how O'Neal showed readers what the world of someone with a chronic illness might look like in a straight forward, non-manipulative way. In some ways, this book is the opposite of all the tearjerkers made into movies a few years back. And then there's the whole, you know, werewolf thing. Simply put, I love a real-world story with one or two plainly fantastic elements, and this fit the bill better than most. If you want a plausibly implausible story of friendship, pick this up immediately.
Immediately after finishing this book, I pre-ordered 3 copies. One for myself, one from my partner, and one for my chronically ill friend who is still in the midst of her fight for a diagnosis...and now I've just thought of a fourth person who I could get a copy for...on that note; here's my review: I need to start off this review selfishly, this book made me feel seen. I’ll be 35 next month, but this book about 20 somethings spoke to my in a way a book hasn’t done in a long time. Anyone who knows me and my partner knows how much online communities have always and still mean to us, that’s how we met. The relationship between Priya and Brigid reminds me of her and I to the point that as I was reading this book I got to chapter 15 and the first paragraph was so on point that I immediately had to screenshot the page and send it to her. "Sometimes you just know when you click with someone, when you realize the two of you were meant to find your way to each other. When they say something a little stupid when they introduce themselves, or make a joke about an obscure interest you have, too, or ask you a question so thoughtful it tilts the axis of your world, just a little. Sometimes you just look at someone in the moment and think, yes, they’re going to be important to me. They’re going to change the shape my life takes. We’re going to mean something to each other." Kristen O’Neal, 2021 The world needs more representation of queerplatonic relationships. I want to thank the author (which I did, I DM’d her on Twitter) for shouting out her platonic life partner in the acknowledgements because the more people see these terms being used and these healthy and loving relationships described the more normal they become. Just because you meet a friend online doesn’t make them less of a real friend. Online friendship are just as important as those you make offline, and they can be life changing and life saving, as seen in this book. Like one of the characters, I went through a dark period in my late teens and early 20s and it was my online friendships, especially my relationship with my partner, that got me through it. So if you’ve ever had a friendship like that you’ll love this book. And if you’ve never had the experience of a relationship like that, then you need to read this book so that you can understand how powerful that experience is. This book also made me realise that my PCOS is a chronic illness…I had never thought of it in those terms before and none of the other women I know who have it have either, but of course it is. Now I’m annoyed that it’s taken me this long to come to terms with that because society hates talking about anything that has to do with women’s reproductive systems, which also gets brought up in this book! For that reason, because of how GOOD this book is at talking about chronic illnesses, everyone should read this book. You can tell that O’Neal spent a lot of time talking to people and learning and reading to present accurate, sympathetic and compassionately humane portrayals of people with chronic illnesses. If you or someone you love is dealing with a chronic illness, this book can help you. If you’re not, or you don’t know someone who is then you need to read this book in order to humanize those who are. You’d think the inclusion of lycanthropy in there would kick it out of reality and make it a joke, but it does the exact opposite, it’s a little shot of magical realism that makes everything about all of the chronic illnesses that much more real and visceral. This book was exactly the vibe I needed to end 2020 with, overall hopeful and uplifting. There are no magical fixes or happy endings here, there is reality that life is hard, but that you can get through anything with the right people in your life. That’s a lesson we all need to learn in 2021.
This book is a real freakin' delight. DELIGHT. As someone who has been a teacher of teenagers for twenty years, I can sniff out bad teen dialogue from a mile away, and this just reads so authentic. The voice of this novel is so funny and real. The lack of capitalization in the messaging is real. The dialogue sparkles with silly and real humor. And the premise? Super bizarre, but I love how the author just goes for it. I love Brigid and Priya together, and the idea that a friend takes a road trip just to check on her friend. I also admire the way this book talks about chronic and long-term illness. It's not all doom and gloom, but it does affect the main characters. It's a great book to recommend to those who need some empathy for others who suffer. You just can't help loving it. Highly recommend.
What a fun and funny, creative and charming, totally unique read. Talk about a wonderful spin on the "sick girl" genre! Humor and warmth permeate this YA/emerging adult novel about two friends who find one another online, and who both belong to a online support group of young adults with chronic illnesses. Anyone who has felt betrayed by their body can relate to at least some of their struggles, and the experience of chronic illnesses is handled gently yet accurately. Somehow, exactly the right amount of time is spent on discovering the shock of lycanthropy - enough to be believable ("how can this be real?!"), yet not so much to drag you down or add drama. Despite its subject matter, this book remains angst-free AND gimmick-free. Instead, it is an uplifting story that emphasizes friendship and support, while never turning sappy or trite. Perfect balance of heart, humor and quirkiness in this excellent debut novel! While I hate to make one more thing about the pandemic, I also think that the fact that these characters make such valuable connections with one another online may ring especially true in these pandemic times. I expect that many of us can now relate to the joy of seeing someone's face in a video chat, while being kept home by illness (or fear of it). Many thanks to #NetGalley and Quirk Books for an advance copy of this title. I will absolutely be talking this book up like crazy!
Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is a funny, heartwarming, real, not-at-all cheesy take on werewolves and life with chronic illness. (It's compared to the Fault in our Stars, but I honestly thought that book was a little eye-rolly.)It has a diverse group of characters who meet on tumblr and use discord to chat. The main characters are generation z (this IS a young adult book) who talk using many gifs, links, and pop culture references in a chat room. So, if you dont get this kind of stuff, or dont like books that include emails, texts, and such, then the jokes might be lost on you and this book might not be for you. If you're significantly older (read: out of touch with current internet lingo), it still might be worth the read for Brigid and Priya's self discovery and friendship. It's especially perfect if you have a chronic illness, know someone with a chronic illness, or even want to understand someone with a chronic illness's point of view. . The plot itself went in directions I wasn't expecting. There were a few times where I was thinking that if the stort went a certain way, I might not like the book. But no. It didn't disappoint. . Bottom line: I absolutely loved this book. All the stars. Also note: I'm biased because I have a chronic illness and also happen to love werewolves.
This was a precious book. I think that Kristen O'Neal's first book was a hit. It was so much fun. Priya was a wonderful character, and the overall premise is so unique.
In Kristen O'Neal's debut novel, Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses, the main character, Priya, is a pre-med student at Stanford when she gets very sick; turns out, a run-in with a tick has given her Lyme disease, and it's a really nasty case. So nasty that she ends up having to return to the family home in New Jersey, and the aftermath of the tick-borne disease has her in chronic pain and suffering. Through a Tumbr blog, she makes "friends" with a girl named Brigid, who also has a chronic illness that knocks her out once a month, though she won't talk about what it is. In a case of like-finds-like, another sufferer of chronic illness creates a chat group, and both Brigid and Priya sign on to the Discord server and make new friends who all have varying chronic illnesses. And it is when Brigid suddenly goes radio silent that Priya forces herself out of her comfort zone, drives the hour or so to Brigid's house, and learns the truth - her friend is actually suffering from Lycanthropy. Yes, Brigid is a werewolf. But before that happens, Priya calls Animal Control, believing the creature to be a wild dog of some kind - which is how she (and later, Brigid), meet Spencer. Priya is now determined to help her friend, and Spencer becomes the third in their in-person triad. Priya also relies on her own research and the aid of one of their Discord friends to try to find a solution to Brigid's changes, which are now coming faster than once a month. But Brigid wants a solution NOW. I love the way O'Neal weaves in the Discord conversations, texts between Priya, Spencer, and Brigid, as well as the narrative that builds Priya's family dynamic: her two siblings and her parents. This was an unusual slant for a werewolf story and I love how O'Neal tied it in as a chronic illness rather than a scary monster to be feared. This was a very well done debut and I look forward to more from O'Neal.
This was such a wonderful read! As someone who has had a chronic illness all my life, it was such a breath of fresh air to read a work of fiction that touched on the life of a young adult with chronic illness so well. My favorite parts of the book were the support group scenes, the heavy and challenging topics discussed were handled so well and were so near and dear to what I have experienced in my life. So very well done. The main characters were also so relatable and obviously, the werewolf storylines made the book more intriguing and captivating. Fantastic read! 100% would highly recommend especially to any young adult who suffers from a chronic illness or knows someone who does.
At its core, Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is a book about friendship and what it means to recognize and come to terms with bodies that do not always do what they should. O'Neal's debut novel moves seamlessly between contemporary everyday questions of acceptance and more extraordinary concerns like "Is 'The Bellows Beast' really the name we're sticking with?" The novel is told through Priya, a nineteen year old college student currently on medical leave following an extensive hospitalization cased by Lyme disease. Struggling to understand and cope with her new body, now permanently altered by a chance encounter with a tick, Priya meets Bridget. Bridget is dealing with a chronic condition of her own, one that began in puberty and flairs about once a month (hint: it isn't her period). But soon Bridget's condition starts to worsen, becoming unpredictable and occurring more often (the whole thing about werewolves only turning at the full moon? we can thank Hollywood for that). With the help of the members of their online chronic illness support group and a not not attractive animal control officer named Spencer, Priya and Bridget investigate both myth and science, looking for anything that might help. Both poignant and funny, Lycanthropy is a refreshingly original book that reckons with very real contemporary experiences of chronic illness and disability, while using myth to complement and explore those experiences in a new and innovative way.
I was completely charmed by the premise of this book the moment I saw it, and luckily, the book itself is equally charming. The characters are genuine and lovable, the plot is unique, and it takes an unflinching look at how complicated our relationships with our own bodies can be. It is also, as a bonus, extremely funny.
I received an ARC through NetGalley from Quirk Books for this YA contemporary fantasy. Priya is diagnosed with chronic Lyme’s disease. She has to leave medical school and move back home. Through social media she finds a virtual support group for people with chronic illnesses. In the group she meets her new best friend who lives nearby, but what Brigid isn’t telling her support group is that she has lycanthropy. As Brigid is faced with challenge after challenge, their relationship blooms and their friends support continues to not waiver. This was a very satisfying and heartwarming read, made very interesting by the fantasy elements infused with very real emotions over chronic illness. The chat dialogues, test messages and narrative story intertwined well and were realistically written. The story moved forward naturally and kept me invested in each character no matter how minor. A very well executed YA book that is readable and has a message. Highly recommended!
Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses was a breath of fresh air when it comes to main characters and their usual able bodiedness within YA fiction. The main character suffers from chronic lyme disease and joins an online group with other sufferers of chronic illness while also befriending one of her online friends who originally tells her about the group, in real life. I love the support and love that these individuals share with each other and it is great to see that represented in fiction where often, it's the negative side of technology or the bullying, trolling, etc, that take center focus of the story. Though I guessed at Priya, the main character's, friend's chronic illness before it was revealed due to the title, I enjoyed how it was portrayed and along with the daily sufferings that the other characters experience due to their chronic illnesses, it was interesting to see how the author imagines lycanthropy as a chronic illness and how that character can relate to the others. I will definitely recommend this book to my students, but especially to those who suffer from chronic illnesses so that they can know that they're not alone and hopefully, they can find their own supportive community like Priya did.
I loved this book! As a first novel, this was particularly impressive from Kirsten O'Neal and I can't wait to see what she does next. I loved the combination of 'real' and supernatural illnesses in this book and thought the sensitive topics were particularly well-handled. The characters were well-developed and likeable, the plot was fast-paced and engaging... all round this was a success. As a teacher of middle-grade readers, I can't wait to recommend this book to them.
I absolutely adored this funny, compassionate story of chronic illness and -- yes -- werewolves! The author captures the experiences and emotions of people dealing with chronic illnesses to a T -- the physical impact, the effect of feeling like your life has been upended permanently, the sense that no one who hasn't been through it can understand. At the same time, it's a funny, quirky celebration of friendship, with terrific characters, a great plot, and laugh-out-loud texts and dialogues. A terrific read!
"Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses" is the debut YA novel of the year. It's a beautifully written, realistic representation of living with chronic illness. It's also a love letter to friendship and found family. Also, there's werewolves! This book will hit you with all the feels and you'll never want to put it down.
I absolutely loved this debut from Kristen O’neal. It tells the story of a college student named Priya who must return to her parents’ home after a bout of lyme disease knocks her down. She and her online friends form a discord support group to talk about their chronic illnesses, but when her best friend misses their weekly check-in, Priya drives to her house and finds a werewolf. One of the author’s major strengths is the one-two-punch of blending the humorous and the bizarre with the gut-wrenching. One minute I was laughing out loud, the next I was tearing up. Another delightful aspect of the book is the discord conversation logs. They feel incredibly true to life and perfectly capture the chaos of a group chat between a bunch of very-online young people and the bonds that form between friends who have chosen each other over great distances, not out of convenience, but because there is nothing sweeter than finding someone who understands you, who likes the same weird stuff you like, who honors your feelings and accepts who you are. I can’t recommend this enough.
Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O'Neal is a young adult novel. Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were. Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses. When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that's shut in the basement. With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid's unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal. Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is a book that started slow for me, but quickly hooked me into caring about all the members of the chronic illness support group. That was what kept me reading, and I am very glad I did. I like the honest and well researched way the illness and the character's experiences with them- and other people's reactions to them- were described. It was all very real and honest, which I appreciated. So often we do not see some of the hardest aspects of being chronically ill, the emotional and mental components. I loved the character and relationship development, and find myself wondering how the future goes for the characters. I have a feeling these characters will stick with me for quite a while. Everything felt real, and honestly if there are werewolves this is pretty much what I think they might be. Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is a read that will draw readers in, foster understanding, and leave readers wanting more.
This book was the most surprising book I’ve read so far this year! I wasn’t sure what I expected, but this is a fantastic tale about friendship and chronic illness. I’ve never read a book like this, and the bond between Priya and Bridget is awesome! What do you do when your online bestie turns out to be a werewolf?! Priya was diagnosed with Lyme disease and has to navigate her new life with a chronic illness. She finds support with an online friend group who all have different types of illnesses/disabilities. Bridget being the one she’s closest to. But Bridget has been really vague when she describes her condition. A surprise visit reveals her secret to Priya, and the hijinks that ensue are pretty epic!
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Tw: body horror, suicidal thoughts, ableism, animal death, infertility, confinement, blood Priya's dream is to become a doctor, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year forces her to go back to her overbearing but loving family in New Jersey and leaves her wondering if she'll ever be able to go back to the way things were. Thankfully, she has an online support group and a best friend, Brigid who lives not so far from her. When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya decides to steal the family's car and go look for her, but she wasn't prepared for what she found once she got there. I LOVED all the characters! The online group of friends was so wholesome and it reminded me of my own group of friends! I loved the fact that every one of them had their own arc and personality and weren't just labelled as "the friends". The friendship between Priya and Brigid was so pure and sweet and definitely my favorite part of the story. I appreciated that it was the main point of the book, because platonic relationships are just as important as romantic ones. The writing was really easy to follow and engaging and I especially loved the chat messages between the different members of the group. I highly recommend this to anyone who's looking for a fun read about friendship, dealing with chronic illnesses and werewolves. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an early copy.
Priya is diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and this puts her work in premed at Stanford on pause. Suffering and feeling alone even surrounded by her family, she becomes friends with Brigid online and soon they both join a Discord group for others with chronic illnesses. I can't speak about chronic illness or the cultural aspects of the story, but I can say that I did enjoy the writing and the characters. Having spent a considerable amount of time online and in chats myself, it felt really refreshing to see a chat in a book that felt absolutely real. I also really enjoyed the way Priya and Brigid are challenged as friends, and there were definitely parts of the book that made me laugh and smile. Again, I cannot say anything about the accuracy of the depictions of chronic illness but I can say these characters felt real and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.
Priya's chronic Lyme disease has put her premed dreams on hold, but her sanity is saved by a virtual support group that meets on Discord. When her support group pal Brigid suddenly goes afk, Priya, driven by urges she doesn't understand, goes to check up on her friend. And what she finds pushes the boundaries of "chronic illness". But given the proper support and care, these friends can deal with any condition. Right? Add in a cute animal control officer and subtract as much social media as possible and let the hijinks ensue. This is a very fresh take on lycanthropy and a deeply fun read.
Rating: 4.5/5 unexplained symptoms Format: ebook. I’d like to thank the author and QuirkBooks for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review! To sum up: Priya had a plan. She was going to med school when she got Lyme disease and had to take a leave of absence. Now back with her loving, but slightly overbearing family, Priya dives into the world of her chronic illness support group on discord to try to process how her life has been derailed. There she meets some amazing people, including a sarcastic and witty Bridget. When Bridget disappears from the discord for a few days, Priya gets worried and finds a way to track her down. What she discovers is a Bridget no one would have expected. What I enjoyed: This book made my heart happy! I don’t talk about this on social often, but I have also been diagnosed with chronic Lyme. Seeing Priya work through the thoughts I have over and over was SO validating and emotional for me. So many times I found myself nodding in understanding or just silently weeping because of how easily I could connect with this character. Priya is kind, thoughtful, smart and trying her best to be a good friend, things that I also strive to be. She is discouraged by her diagnosis but also grappling with her new reality the best way she can. I absolutely loved Priya and Bridget’s growing friendship. Their banter reminded me SO MUCH of my friends in high school! I laughed so hard at their conversations and their banter, it made me feel transported to another time. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Bridget (and an amazing chronic illness support group!) in their life. The way the whole group talks about the uncertainty of their symptoms, their struggles with treatment and getting what they need, and how it affects their family is SO complex and truly a wonderful thing to see in YA. We definitely don’t get enough chronic illness rep in YA and this was a really great way to bring in that topic while also adding in a wild, fantastical element with wonderful friendships. What was meh: The only thing I struggled with was the discord chat format. Although I started this on ebook, I had a hard time connecting with the characters reading it that way. I checked out the audio from the library however and I LOVED IT. I definitely suggest people give the audio a try if they can’t get into the ebook, the narrator is fantastic! Overall, I am so happy this book exists. Anyone that has struggled with chronic illness or knows someone going through it should definitely pick this book up!
I truly enjoyed this book about friendship, because that really is what it is all about at its core. There are whole communities of people online who may never meet in person but are supportive and caring toward each other and this story truly demonstrates that. The format flipping between IRL, texting, phone calls, and chat groups is really fun and a good depiction of how a lot of people communicate in their daily lives. I thought the story was well written and to that end, I truly cared about both Priya and Brigid.. I know there is controversy over whether O'Neal should have written about a culture she is not part of, but personally knowing families like Priya's I saw them reflected in hers without judgement or in a negative light. Additionally, having a chronic illness myself, I felt a lot of what was said in the group chats and such what my real life is like - especially when you have an invisible disease (no, I can't just take a nap!) Overall a great book I will be recommending to my young audiences looking for something different but that they can relate to.
As a person with a chronic pain condition the inclusion of chronic illness in fiction is something I will always celebrate. For that reason, Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is one of those books that I will not stop recommending! The basic premise of two people meeting online who both have chronic illnesses (very realistic - every illness has a online community now), and one of which being lycanthropy is the perfect set up for both genuinely supportive and realistic conversations about chronic illnesses as well as absolutely mad comedic moments. I would also like to say it is very easy to get medical information wrong in books like this but from what I could tell everything checked out and was honest and realistic.