The Hand You’re Dealt

New Adult

Lori Johnson wants to be just another freshman – she wants to blend in, not stand out. She spent several years in high school being accused of faking a painful disease, and she doesn’t want to go through the same thing in college. But pain is still a very real part of her life – sometimes she’s in horrible pain, sometimes she can handle it. Now starting over fresh, she doesn’t tell anyone about the disease, determined to keep it a secret for as long as she can. But her feelings for Dylan complicate matters: he supports her from day one, and she wants to open up to him about her illness. When she can’t hide the pain anymore, will she face rejection once again, or will someone stand with her? 

“The Hand You’re Dealt” is a touching, heart-wrenching read about one girl’s struggle with illness and pain, and how those who are supposed to be her friends, those she’s supposed to rely on, often can’t handle it. Part of the novel is shocking because it’s true: people often pull away from others when they need them the most, and when someone is in pain but has no outward injuries, people are eager to dismiss them. 

Lori is an intriguing character, and changes a lot throughout the book. The secondary characters were not as well-drawn, though, and some of them had rather generic personalities.  Some of the dialogue didn’t sound natural either. Despite that, it was engaging, well written and creative. 

Majanka Verstraete