Title: Symptoms of a Heartbreak
Author: Sona Charaipotra
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: Available now
Summary: The youngest doctor in America, an Indian-American teen makes her rounds―and falls head over heels―in the contemporary romantic comedy Symptoms of a Heartbreak.
Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius―but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier.
But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything.
It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.
In her solo debut, Sona Charaipotra brings us a compelling #ownvoices protagonist who’s not afraid to chase what she wants. Symptoms of a Heartbreak goes from romantic comedy highs to tearjerker lows and is the ultimate cure-all for young adult readers needing an infusion of something heartfelt.
Review: As you all know I’m a sucker for a great character and in Symptoms of a Heartbreak, Saira Sehgal is definitely it. Not only is she super smart, but she is witty, compassionate, snarky, and stands up for herself. A number of my favorite moments were when she wouldn’t let herself be cowed by adults who tried to diminish her because of her age. And while she is very mature for her age because of all that she’s accomplished, she still sometimes doesn’t always make the right decisions. She struggled with maintaining relationships with her former classmates, but wasn’t fully able to tell them (or even herself) why. Saira is so focused on being the best doctor, that she often forgets to take care of herself, to allow herself to be a teenager. While Saira maybe a young doctor, many teens will relate to her because of her flaws, because she has the same insecurities about her life as many 16 year-olds do.
I enjoyed how the romance was a slow build, not just because the two were kind of shy, but because Link was Saira’s patient! Also, the way Saira slowly acknowledged her feeling was hilarious because she couldn’t exactly identify what her heart was feeling, but would clinically assess her feelings the way a doctor assess symptoms. I kept wanting to yell at her “it’s because you like him”. She eventually figures it out and when their romance officially starts, it’s sweet as they were friends first. They two have an obvious obstacle to overcome (his cancer) but both address it with beautiful maturity and take a chance on each other. I really loved their relationship, despite their rocky start, as both were able to be honest with each other and what they wanted from each other. Adults have trouble with this, so I was glad to see such a positive portrayal of a relationship in a YA novel.
I can’t write this review without mentioning Saira’s family, both her immediate and her extended. What a cast of crazy characters (in a good way) they all were. Saira’s parents were loving and firm, clearly wanting only the best for their youngest daughter; Saira’s sister Taara is struggling with her own identity but helps and challenges Saira. My favorite family member of Saira’s was her grandmother, Dadima, who seems to hover in the background a lot, but knows way more than she lets on and when she speaks, she doesn’t hold back. Dadima is the keeper of secrets, but also gave great advice as the “cost” of keeping those secrets. The family dynamic was so loving and it was clear why Saira had such a good head on her shoulders.
Overall, I really enjoyed “Symptoms of a Heartbreak” as it was a novel that made me laugh and moved my heart.