Take Your Medicine
TAKE YOUR MEDICINE
f/f, Young Adult
I received an ARC of Take Your Medicine in exchange for an honest review.
This is a modern-day contemporary inspired by Alice in Wonderland. It has a dash of romance but mostly focuses on the narrator, a girl named Al (short for Alice), and her strange fainting spells that modern medicine have failed to cure.
Hannah Carmack’s prose was lush and descriptive, and this is the strength of the story. Alice cultivates a beautiful garden with her mother, and I love nature writing. Carmack brings us into the back country and the setting sings. Everything else...doesn’t sing so much.
I saw a review that complained about Take Your Medicine’s lack of plot, and I was eager to read the story immediately, because I quite like plotless books. However, when I finished this one, I was left thinking: What was the point of that? The writing was descriptive but didn’t wow me enough to be worth reading on its own. I recognize that it’s a novella, but the characterization felt flimsy even for its short length. Okay writing, not-quite-memorable characters, not much of a plot: What is the point?
Al’s new friends and the love interest are self-proclaimed witches who think they can cure her Vasovagal syncope, while her mother is a doctor.
“And how were [the witches going to cure you]? Some sage and lilacs?” [Mother] rolled her eyes. “Naturalists like that are dangerous.”
The point seems to be an argument between modern medicine and homeopathic cures, science and magic. I’m totally uninterested in this debate.
Also, in this retelling all of the characters have names inspired by Alice in Wonderland, which was really the only thing that reminded me of the story at all: the mom is nicknamed the Queen of Hearts, then there’s Kat (Cheshire cat), Rabbit, the TD twins, and Alice herself. Okay, great. But at one point Alice’s mom tells her that she was named after the protagonist of Lewis Carroll’s story, and it kind of jolted me, because I had assumed that Alice in Wonderland didn’t exist within the world of this story, or else Alice would have stopped to wonder why everyone in her life is named after a character in the book.
Overall, this story is about homeopathy, which I am totally not on board for. Hannah Carmack also wrote The Seven-Sided Spy, which I was interested in picking up, but the pedantry in this novella makes me a little wary.