REVIEW: Everything’s Okay
Everything’s Okay: My Journey to Building a Joyous Life After Surviving Childhood Cancer
by Alesia Ellen Shute
If you’re lucky, you won’t get this book because you need it.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s really good. Maybe even great. You should hunt it down. But it’s about something very scary – childhood cancer – and it doesn’t pull any punches, emotional or physical.
Alesia Shute was diagnosed with colon cancer when she was 7 years old. She went through years of surgeries, hospital stays, discomfort (which is the polite way to describe pain) and tests. Lots and lots of tests. She also grew up, fought with her siblings, fought with her parents, dated, fell in love, fell out of love, fell in love some more, got married, and had a child. Oh, and she got cancer again after she found out she was pregnant.
Several years ago, she wrote a book about her experiences, which she self-published. With the money raised she raised, she started a non-profit organization, which raises funds for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (which she affectionately calls CHoP), her alma mater.
This fall, to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Round Table Comics is publishing a graphic novel adaptation of her book, which is available at Hudson Newstands and through Amazon at the link above. All proceeds will be donated to CHoP.
When I first heard about this project, I thought, in my condescending way, that it was for children, a way for parents to talk to their sick child (or her siblings) about cancer. I was wrong. This book is too intense to give to a young child. While neither bloody nor gory, Nathan Lueth’s artwork conveys Alesia’s pain and fear, and the loneliness she feels because she’s so different from other kids. It is, however, a great way for parents and other concerned adults to know what a child with cancer is going through.
There is none of the sentimentality that so often accompanies stories about cancer survivors. Instead, there are real emotions (not just the noble ones) that reinforce Alesia’s humanity, and make her experiences believably real.
As I write this, Diamond is not distributing this book. Perhaps if enough of us ask our local comic shops, they might reconsider.