Lurlene McDaniel – crying blast from the past

So this weekend I was home visiting my parents and brother, who came in to visit from LA. As I hate to throw away books (who knows when you’ll want to read them again, or give them away to some other little girls to help them get through their awkward years?), my bookshelf in my old bedroom is quite crowded.

So as I was looking through my books, reliving my middle/high school years, I found some gems by Lurlene McDaniel – the Dawn Rochelle series. These books are absolute tear jerkers about a girl who is diagnosed with Leukemia and is told she only has 6 months to live (hence the unecessarily heart-wrenching title of one book, Six Months to Live). Dawn attends a cancer camp, where she meets many other people suffering from Leukemia, including a beautiful blonde-haired girl named Sandy. Eventually, Sandy dies (cue tears), and there’s a lot in the book about Sandy’s battle with cancer and how she loses her beautiful hair.

Well… seriously, Lurlene. Did I need this kind of depression in my childhood? Apparently I did because I couldn’t stop reading this series, and crying and crying and crying. I guess McDaniel had a good reason for writing – her son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 3 and she found writing to be “therapeutic” (per her website) – but now it just seems barbaric that I would force myself through these books. But as Lurlene’s website also says, “Everyone enjoys a good cry.”

Now I can’t help but wonder if reading those books helped to desensitize me a bit to my own cancer problems. I guess it’s possible – I mean it would have been much harder to deal with thoughts of cancer if I had never dealt with it before. Maybe it’s good to expose children to these sad situations early in life – kind of like you train a dog when it’s a puppy to deal with people grabbing at it and puling its tail.

I must have been a weird child. When everyone else was reading Goosebumps, I was reading about girls dying of cancer.


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