Review by Nina Dinan, 15

Always Smile: Carley Allison’s Secrets for Laughing, Loving and Living by Alice Kuipers

In early 2013, Carley Allison, a Canadian figure skater and singer-songwriter, was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer in her trachea. Instead of being dismayed by the diagnosis, she chose to use her experience as a way to bring hope and inspiration to others. She began blogging about her life with cancer, and these blog entries make up a good portion of the book. Her words are infused with confidence and determination. Incredibly, Allison managed to sing despite having had a tracheotomy, not allowing her disease to keep her from doing what she loved. Many voices tell this story, including those of Allison’s family and friends. These voices unanimously convey what a remarkable young woman Allison was, and how many lives she touched, even after she was diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer.

Kuipers wrote this book featuring blog posts, photos, and online messages between Allison and her friends, giving an immediate and personal tone to the story. She also inserts many of Allison’s inspiring quotes and lyrics to some of her original songs. I thought this was a compelling touch in the story, as was the use of multiple voices. It was remarkable to follow Allison’s story and observe how she took everything in her stride and never despaired, no matter what her medical condition was. Overall, this book is a portrait of someone who, despite rare sufferings, always maintained a determined rejection of self-pity and an unfailingly optimistic outlook on life.

I recommend this book. 3.5 stars.


Find this book in our catalog: Title

Catalog Number: YA 362.19699 KUI

390 pages

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