Bless the Blood: A Cancer Memoir

Penguin/Kokila. Feb. 2024. 400p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593529492.
Gr 9 Up–Nehanda, a Black, disabled, nonbinary poet, recounts being diagnosed with leukemia at age 23 and navigating the healthcare system, their estranged family, and their relationship with their fiancé in this searing debut memoir in verse. They have a way with words, and the poetic way they share their pain, how their family has mistreated them, and how Black people are treated by the healthcare system make for a powerful read. Some passages are written in prose and recount various times in their life, such as coming out and being kicked out of their home, while verse parts explore the burden they felt their sickness was on everyone around them. They also explore what it means to be disabled in an inaccessible world. The prologue touts this as not like The Fault in Our Stars because of how raw and real the author is, and they hold up to that promise. Nehanda is also inspired by Black artists such as Whitney Houston and Audre Lorde. This work runs the full gamut of emotions, and readers will be captivated by the author’s poetry, heart, and pain.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for teen memoir collections because of the powerful writing and storytelling.

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