Why Me? by Deborah Kent - Book Review

Title- Why Me?

Author- Deborah Kent


After her kidneys fail, thirteen-year-old Rachel's curiosity about her birth mother becomes a question of extreme importance.


I remembered the time back in the first week of school, when our phys ed teacher, Ms. Lundy, came out with the statement that, “True health is to live day to day without ever thinking about your body.” But now I understood what Ms. Lundy has been talking about.

Years back, the title of this book caught my attention many times when I skimmed through the various book titles in my school library and one day I finally decided to give Why Me a read. One of the best decisions I had taken then. The story of Rachel Whitaker stuck with me for a long time and years after I first read it, I thought of reading it again to see if I find it as amazing as I found it then, and honestly, I love it even more now.

The story is about a simple thirteen year old girl, Rachel Whitaker, who was adopted when she was little. But that’s not what the story is completely about. Unfortunately she gets to know that both her kidneys have failed and, barring the other options she had, the only way she could ever get back to her normal routine (i.e. a life without dialysis, etc) is by a transplant from a blood relative. That’s when everything changes for her: they look for her mother.  

Melanie passed me a handful of pictures, and I rippled through them until I stared into my own face. There was last September’s me, smiling quietly as if I had some private joke. I searched in vain for some hint of trouble, some foreboding of the calamity that lay in wait for me only weeks after that shot was taken.

Everything in the book, from the character’s struggles to accept the reality while coping with and adjusting to the abrupt changes in her life to her curious and conflicting thoughts, is portrayed very well- very true and realistic in a very simply way. She gives up on what she loves which is ballet that struck her the most while enduring dialysis which seemed to be the most difficult to get adjusted to.

“What if she’s somebody glamorous, like a movie star or a great dancer? Maybe someday she’ll find you and take you to Hollywood.” 

Other than that, the book talks about looking for her real mother. Rachel is always curious about her mother’s identity and also makes up stories about her real mother. It builds the suspense in the book-whether she finds her mother or not- and makes the reader turn the pages until they get the answers to her questions. In my case, I felt like jumping to the last page to know what happens.

Someone would cast Phoebe a long, hard look and ask, “Who do you think she takes after?” And it would hit me with a little jolt that, as long as I lived, nobody was ever going to ask that question about me.

My favourite thing about this book is that- which may come as a surprise to many- it doesn’t have romance. I have realised that romance is one factor that most people look for in a story and are more easily attracted to and which also in a way makes it more interesting than without it. But here even without a romantic plot, the author tells us the meaning of love and belonging. Love doesn’t always have to be romantic to be good. In Rachel’s life, love is her (foster) family’s affection, care, concern, protectiveness towards her and their support during crisis, her friend’s support and motivation. There are times when no one really knows how she feels and aren’t able to put themselves in her shoes, she sulks and curses her fate, and almost gives up, and it is the people in her life, including the new people she meets, who encourage and help bringing her back on track whenever she stumbles. It’s really sweet.

For years I had trained my body to obey me. I could turn my legs out from the hip, I could do a perfect split, and rise gracefully on my toes. But sometimes lately I wondered if my body was turning against me. I was helpless, in the clutches of an enemy I couldn’t name.

I like Rachel’s dry sarcasm no matter how sad it is. It’s a good book to know how someone feels when they have to go through such a situation. But the story is not entirely serious and so refreshing and funny at times that one can’t help laughing. Along with all that I have mentioned, it is still a story of a normal and confused teenager who we can all relate to.

The only problem is that at the beginning, the pace of the story is a little slow and then as we move forward, it quickens so abruptly that we don’t realise when so much time has passed in the book until the narrator mentions it themselves.

 I have never read such a simple book which as amazing as Why Me. I don’t think anyone really gets to read a book like this these days. Maybe it was because of the fact that it was published in 1992 but I would still believe that the book is one in a million. What saddens me the most is that it is a really obscure book, something that isn’t easily available. There is no e-book available and it is quite expensive online (and I want it badly), I think they stopped printing it a long time back. But I would recommend it to anyone who is bored with the usual YA stories and wants to read something different for a change. Definitely worth a read.



4 and half out of 5 ballet shoes


(Check out my other book reviews on my blog!)

Loading ...