The Way I See It by Nicole Dryburgh

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The Way I See It by Nicole Dryburgh

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Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: This is the diary of Nicole, aged 18, and her battles with cancer, loosing her sight and struggling to walk again.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: January 2008
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0340956922

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At age 11, Nicole was a typical, active girl. By age 18, she is blind, unable to walk following a stroke and just about in remission from cancer. This book is the story of those in-between 7 years and what went wrong and, surprisingly, right.

I was a bit apprehensive about reviewing this one because I thought either it would be quite sad and depressing, or it would be all American, happy clappy, Chicken Soup for the Soul-esque. You don't expect the first thoughts of a normal teenager going through cancer treatment to be "Ooh, let's see if I can write a book about this" and so you have to wonder whether Nicole is normal, but from a few pages in you clearly establish that she is, and what's more, that she's alive and kicking.

The book is mainly Nicole's diary in her own words, but it is supplemented by notes from her mother (from times Nicole was too sick to remember) and messages from her teachers, doctors and school friends. In the middle there are some pages of colour photos which chart her decline in health, from an active pre-teen doing gymnastics in her bedroom, to an 18 year old with limited mobility, virtually no sight and the short locks signifying a recent bout of chemo.

You can't help but feel the difference between this and the ream of fictitious teenage girl diaries (invariably written by middle aged women) that are also on the market. This one is so much more real, so much more human, so much more intriguing, inspiring and, despite the subject matter, entertaining. It's less polished, but that's the beauty of it. Nicole is really honest with herself, and her readers throughout the book. She doesn't come across as a brat or as a saint. Instead she seems like someone who did her best to keep going through what was clearly a tough time in her life, but who retained her status as a human (and as a teenager!) throughout, snapping at people at times, ignoring others, being rude and then regretting it, and maintaining an unhealthy obsession with pop stars, her dogs, and the colour pink.

I really enjoyed the book, and felt glad that by reading it I was confirming that Nicole had achieved one of her numerous life goals, that of publishing a book. On the first page she lists the "rules" for reading, which include Do not think poor girl, because I'm not and if there's one thing I didn't feel on the last page, it's sorry for her. She has achieved some quite astounding things in her life already, and I'm saying that thinking of her as a regular teenager, not as a disabled/blind/cancer-surviving teenager. It really is an inspiring book, and she is a very inspiring girl. Recommended reading for everyone.

Johnnie Walker also talks candidly about cancer in his autobiography while if it's inspiring teens you're after, the fictitious Harriet Rose may be the answer. You might also enjoy I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson.

Thanks as always to the publishers for supplying the book, but also thanks to Nicole for writing it, and for sharing this sometimes intriguing, sometimes quite worrying time in her life. You can learn more about Nicole on her website.

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Buy The Way I See It by Nicole Dryburgh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Way I See It by Nicole Dryburgh at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Way I See It by Nicole Dryburgh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Way I See It by Nicole Dryburgh at


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