One of my unofficial reading goals this year is to read a few memoirs that weren’t written by people I’d already heard of. Now, I love a good celebrity memoir, but there’s something to be said about learning more about other people’s experiences. And when I read the synopsis for Jeff Henigson’s Warhead, I was immediately sold.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) It’s 1986, and Jeff is an average fifteen-year-old: he thinks a lot about dating, he bounces around with his friends, and he’s trying his hardest to get a car. Conversely, the world around him feels crazy: the United States and the Soviet Union are at glaring odds, with their leaders in a standoff, and that awful word, “nuclear,” is on everyone’s mind. Then, boom–Jeff learns that he has brain cancer and it’s likely terminal. Well, that puts a damper on his summer plans and romantic prospects, doesn’t it?
Jeff’s family rallies around him, but they are fiercely complicated–especially Jeff’s father, a man who can’t say “I love you” even during the worst of Jeff’s treatment. So when the Starlight Children’s Foundation offers to grant Jeff a wish, he makes one certain to earn his father’s respect: he asks to travel to Moscow and meet with Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss nuclear disarmament and ending the Cold War. Nothing like achieving world peace to impress a distant father, right? Jeff has always been one to aim high.
Jeff’s story is dark, but it’s also funny, romantic, and surprising. As his life swings from incredibly ordinary to absolutely incredible, he grapples with the big questions of mortality, war, love, hope, and miracles.
When I decided to read a memoir about a teenage boy with brain cancer, I expected to end up crying at some point. I mean, he wrote this book twenty years later, so I was pretty sure the ending wouldn’t be especially sad. But I’ve experienced a few family members going through cancer, and no part of it is fun. And there were definitely parts of this book that were sad and difficult to read. But I was completely surprised that this book made me laugh so much. It was absolutely brilliant.
I loved Henigson’s story – he was seriously an awesome teenager – and his attitude about what he was going through. I actually identified with him quite a bit, though I’ve never been nearly that cool or brave. He faced cancer head-on and still kept his sense of humor. And, really, that’s all you can do. Plus, he decided to use his Starlight Children’s Foundation wish to as Gorbachev for world peace. Which is pretty amazing. Seriously, think about what you were like as a teenager. Would you have the guts? And even if you did, would you ask for something so selfless? I know I wouldn’t (to either).
This was a great story, and I am so glad I got to experience it. I think this book has the potential to inspire a lot of young readers, and I will definitely be recommending it to a lot of people.
★★★★★ – I wasn’t expecting much from Warhead, but I ended up really loving this book. If you like funny but poignant memoirs, I highly recommend this one!
Warhead will be available in bookstores July 2. If you’re interested, you can order a copy on Amazon now.
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose Warhead as one of your two free books.
This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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