Lycanthropy and Other Illnesses by Kristen O’Neal
Reviewed by GGGinny
What I drank: White wine. It’s been a while considering I’ve been on a hard seltzer kick. But man, this reminds me of living with Sam, putting on something on tv and just enjoying each other’s company. I miss living with her.
Teen Wolf meets Emergency Contact in this sharply observed, hilarious, and heartwarming debut young adult novel about friendship and the hairy side of chronic illness.
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.
Drunk Overview: Okay, Priya has lyme disease and it’s messing with her life. Lucky she’s made friends with someone from Tumblr (Brigid), who happens to invite her to a group for people with chronic illnesses. Also it turns out Brigid is a werewolf, and Priya wants to help.
- boy did this book remind me about the things in college I’m happy I’ve grown past.
- I’m sorry, I’m 30 years old. The idea of going back to college and dealing with the constant comparison with the other people your age… no thank you. I’m quite happy bbeing a lazy piece of shit on Friday nights. I’m more comfortable and the hangover is much more easily controlled
- That being said, the explanation of chronic pain felt refreshing. There are so many books where something debilitating is something to get past, rather than something to live with. And the way the discord group discussed their good days and bad days was kind of uplifting.
- It’s a good reminder to celebrate when things go well and to work past the things that don’t.
- But also, Priya is in a rough situation, dealing with the fact that her medical career probably isn’t going to happen.
- And then suddenly Brigid disappears. Which is when Priya visits andn finds out she’s a werewolf.
- I enjoyed the way the fantastic was handled in this book. The transformations were made to sound horrendous. Who the fuck knows if there’s anything else out there… and just in general, it’s unheard of but at the same point, handled realistically (if that makes sense).
- I really enjoyed Brigid’s sense of humor. As someone who has been on Tumblr way past the point of Tumblr doing much, they managed to get the manic energy of it so well.
- But also, I think the kind of manic energy that Brigid gets fits the character so well. She had to deal with these wild transforamations so it makes sense that she would want to figure things out when she can. I mean, anything you can find on wikipedia is going to be really nice compared to “Why am I a werewolf.”
- The plot is fairly basic. Girl finds out friend is werewolf and tries to solve the problem (because she’s a med student and also loves solving problems). But even with such a basic plot there were some really fun scenes. IAgain, i really loved how weird the transformations sounded.
- I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s one of those things that just makes you cringe a little to think about (also there should probably be a warning for anyone who has a weird relationship with teeth, it’s mentioned a lot).
- But I also loved how this book was also a way for Priya to come to terms with the fact that, because of the Lyme disease, she’s never going to be the same.
- Life demands change. And sometimes that change is easy, and sometimes it isn’t. Priya is dealing with a change that isn’t easy, but if required acceptance.
- Honestly, I don’t think there’s a single thing I would point to this book and try to change. I loved her chronic pain group (although they seemed to accept lycanthropy fairly quickly), the cast of characters (even though dynamics could be strange), and the werewolf lore (even though it was outside of the “typical” lore).
- I think making any major changes would have changed the ultimate message of this book.
- Which, at least in my mind, is “Shitty things will happen, but how you deal with them will determine your own happiness.”
- There’s plenty more going on with this book. The medical mystery of how lycanthropy happened, how Priya got Lyme disease was never really covered, etc. Just in general, this book felt full. Even if Priya’s experiences could be limited.
- Ultimately, I really enjoyed the support network. So many people in this book felt like they could have had a book of their own, and I tend to consider that a marker for success.
- I’m not saying that the main character shouldn’t be the most interesting person in the book. But that the cast of characters needs to feel like there are things happening behind the scenes. And boy did this book deliver.
What I’d Pair it With: Gimlet. Something delicious that hides the pain you’ll feel until the next day.