BOOK REVIEW: MARIE NEVER GIVES UP
ARE YOU BRAVE LIKE ME?
A STORY ABOUT A CHILD WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS
BY MARY BALIKER
REVIEW BY JAMES MYERS
Publishing Company: CreateSpace
Written for Children
Cover Design by Pretty Good Printmaking
This is by far and away, the best children’s book that I have read on the subject of a child dealing with Chronic Kidney Disease, and all the challenges that come with it. Ms. Baliker takes us inside the life and mind of a child, who goes from being a normal little girl to a desperate kidney patient overnight. Initially, when we first meet Maria, she is leading a pastoral, rural life on her father’s hobby farm. She led a happy life, exploring the woods, collecting stones, feathers and arrowheads. Her days are spent catching butterflies, reading Charlotte’s Web or Nancy Drew books, with her constant companion Teddy, her teddy bear and our narrator. Maria was leading the idyllic life of a young girl.
This all changes when Maria’s little body begins to swell, and she is tired for such a young girl. She is diagnosed after a series of traumatic tests with kidney disease, forcing her to take medication to keep her alive. She is made fun of by her other classmates, openly fears death, even questions her parents’ motives for throwing her, “a big birthday party.” Fortunately, the medicine begins to work, and the swelling goes down.
Miraculously, she begins to lead a semi-normal life again, making friends, attending school, enjoying activities. She was in remission. At the age of 15, she begins a devastating relapse. Now old enough for a kidney transplant, until a donor comes along, she faces dialysis. 6 hours a day, even sicker than before, she tells her brother, Doug, “It’s my whole day. My whole life…I just don’t think I can do this.” She continues, “I won’t get to read any more books. I won’t see my friends any more. No more bikes or football games. Not even a senior prom. No more…no more anything. No more you! I won’t even get to see my nieces and nephews, if I ever have any. I won’t even be able to get married!”
Doug realizes she is frightened. He takes action. Her 21-year-old bigger brother makes a life-saving decision.
This is a wonderful book that understands from a child’s point of view what a diagnosis of kidney disease means and how it affects life. It is truly written by someone who has been there and revisits the anxiety and elation of going from diagnosis to transplant. This is not only a great book for children suffering from kidney disease, but adults as well. It gives an unflinching view of a horrible childhood disease that most adults deal with poorly. The writing that makes this book unique, is that we get that reminder of trauma in childhood that goes above and beyond the normal scary things encountered. Mary Baliker has written a brilliant book about childhood illness, giving an unrelenting vision of pediatric kidney patients. We love little Maria and her extreme courage. Yes, Maria. I hope to be brave like you!
Buy the Book Here: