THE YEAR MY LIFE WENT DOWN THE TOILET, by Jake Maia Arlow, Dial Books, Aug. 1, 2023, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 10-14)
A girl tries to make it through middle school while dealing with a chronic illness in The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet, by Jake Maia Arlow.
Twelve-year-old Al Schneider is too scared to talk about the two biggest things in her life:
1. Her stomach hurts all the time and she has no idea why.
2. She’s almost definitely 100% sure she likes girls.
So she holds it in…until she can’t. After nearly having an accident of the lavatorial variety in gym class, Al finds herself getting a colonoscopy and an answer — she has Crohn’s disease.
But rather than solving all her problems, Al’s diagnosis just makes everything worse. It’s scary and embarrassing. And worst of all, everyone wants her to talk about it — her overprotective mom, her best friend, and most annoyingly her gastroenterologist, who keeps trying to get her to go to a support group for kids with similar chronic illnesses. But, who wants to talk about what you do in the bathroom?
The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet is a story about finding community, telling the truth even when it’s hard, and the many indignities of middle school life. —Synopsis provided by Dial Books
Poop is one of the most universal things in this world: Everybody poops. But some people poop more than others. A lot more. And, quite frankly, it’s a pain in the butt.
Don’t believe me?
Pooping has become top of mind. She has to plan her life around her stomach issues, and even when she gets help, poop gets in the way. Add in her insecurities about being queer, and there’s a lot on Al’s plate.
Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s as a child, author Jake Maia Arlow is very familiar with Al’s illness. It’s this familiarity with it that lends an air of authenticity you can’t just make up. Arlow’s sensitive but humorous take makes The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet a book that’s relatable to a large audience.
Readers will instinctively understand Al’s experiences with friendship, first crush and annoyance with a parent. These are universal moments every kid goes through in one way or another.
The Year My Life Went Down the Toilet is a fast-moving contemporary novel that fits squarely in the older MG/younger YA camp (ages 10-14).
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