Cheerleading, mean girls, shopping . . . and leprosy? High school is about to get complicated. For fans of Before I Fall and Exit, Pursued By a Bear.
Abby Furlowe has plans. Big plans. She's hot, she's popular, she's a cheerleader and she's going to break out of her small Texas town and make it big. Fame and fortune, adoration and accolades. It'll all be hers.
But then she notices some spots on her skin. She writes them off as a rash, but things only get worse. She's tired all the time, her hands and feet are numb and her face starts to look like day-old pizza. By the time her seventeenth birthday rolls around, she's tried every cream and medication the doctors have thrown at her, but nothing works. When she falls doing a routine cheerleading stunt and slips into a coma, her mystery illness goes into overdrive and finally gets diagnosed: Hansen's Disease, aka leprosy.
Abby is sent to a facility to recover and deal with this new reality. Her many misdiagnoses mean that some permanent damage has been done, and all of her plans suddenly come tumbling down. If she can't even wear high heels anymore, what is the point of living? Cheerleading is out the window, and she might not even make it to prom. PROM!
But it's during this recovery that Abby has to learn to live with something even more difficult than Hansen's Disease. She's becoming aware of who she really was before and what her behavior was doing to others; now she's on the other side of the fence looking in, and she doesn't like what she sees. . .
Darkly comic but ultimately touching, Confessions of a Teenage Leper is an ugly duckling tale with a surprising twist.
Seventeen-year-old Abby Furlowe feels her life is just about to begin. She's the beauty queen of her small Texas town and plans to land a cheerleading scholarship to the college of her choice to pursue modeling, acting, and fame. But Abby's not very nice. Then, what begins with a rash turns into numb feet, followed by a cheerleading accident that puts her in a coma for 16 days. She is finally diagnosed with Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy, and it's the end of the world as she knows it. Abby's harsh voice is riddled with dark humor, making for an effective first-person narrative that conveys palpable anger, shame, resentment, and sadness as she's faced with her disintegrating health and friends who desert her because they're as shallow as she has been. Little (Niagara Motel) pulls no punches in describing the agony of living with a chronic disease, and weaves in a subplot about Abby's brother's homosexuality and struggle with destructive behavior. When Abby is sent off to a facility in Baton Rouge, La., for treatment, she meets new friends who accept her as she reforms her identity into something more substantial, reflective, and kind. This unusual and inspiring story reminds readers that difficult circumstances can strengthen one's character. Ages 14 up.