Side Effects May Vary

Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary
Penguin Books Australia
26 March 2014

Side Effects May Vary

Julie Murphy

Written from the perspectives of both Harvey and Alice, in Side Effects May Vary, Julie Murphy weaves a compelling story of friendship, relationships and love, with a little bit of death thrown in for good measure; at least for a while.

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend Harvey, who’s loved her forever, to help with compiling a crazy ‘just-dying-to-do’ bucket list, that’s as much about revenge as it is about redemption.

But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission. Now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done and discover just what happens when we say our ‘final’ words, only to find that life isn’t through with us yet.

Sharp, witty and poignant - this is a book written for all ages.


Alice is a teenager dying of leukaemia. She makes a bucket list, and while most of her wishes are what one might expect, she includes a few acts of revenge for those who have wronged her. Given her health is declining, she enlists her friend Harvey to help her carry out these tasks and their relationship intensifies as they cross items off the list together. But when Alice goes into remission, she finds herself without an ‘expiry date’.

Alice must now consider how she will navigate a future she did not think she would see and decide how she will interact with both enemies and loved ones, particularly an adoring Harvey, under new circumstances.

With Side Effects, Julie Murphy has created an appealing and absorbing debut novel. There are surprises until the very end, and this will surely be a hit with teenage readers.

Kim Gruschow

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