Chess would like to think of herself as a normal girl, but lately her body is not behaving in a normal manner. She’s been ill frequently but doesn’t know why and her undiagnosed condition even caused her to have a humiliating incident with a guy she has a crush on. It turns out that she has Crohn’s disease. She ends up in the hospital depressed and trying to come to terms with the diagnosis. One of her roommates, Shannon, has been in and out of the hospital with Crohn’s for a number of years. To put it mildly, Shannon is sassy with the doctors and nurses. She also isn’t one to throw a pity party for herself. Much of the book centers on Shannon and Chess trying to learn to deal with each other and Crohn’s disease.
Written in an unusual manner, Lucy Frank’s Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling takes an honest and realistic look at the subject of young people suffering from a chronic illness. Plenty of books have focused on terminally ill adolescents. (The Fault in Our Stars and Jenny Downham’s Before I Die come to mind.) It’s good to see an author exploring chronic illness as so many young people suffer from these health problems.