Dessert First – Book Recommendation

Spread the love
dessertTITLE: Dessert First
AUTHOR: Dean Gloster
PUBLISHER: Merit Press, September 2016
AGES: 12+ (YA)
THEMES/TOPICS: childhood cancer, family dynamics, leukemia. brothers & sisters, San Francisco, high school


I‘ve thought a lot about what happens when we die, and I’m pretty sure it’s not reincarnation. No loving and merciful God would put us through high school twice.


Upbeat–that’s Kat, the girl in the family who everyone turns to when things get difficult. Especially now, when her beloved younger brother Beep is in his second leukemia relapse, and a bone marrow transplant from Kat may be his only chance. But Kat’s worried that she and her bone marrow may not be up to the task: She can’t even complete homework, and she’s facing other rejection–lost friendships, a lost spot on the soccer team, and lots of heartache from her crush on her former best friend, Evan. Kat doesn’t know if her bone marrow will save Beep, or whether she can save herself, let alone keep her promise to Beep that she’ll enjoy life and always eat dessert first.

Dessert First is a funny, moving story about coping, appreciating sweetness, and learning to forgive. (Goodreads)


First off, it wasn’t until I came to write my review that I realized the author is male so I must say he writes a persuasive good female POV. I feel the point worth making as it reinforces something pertinent to many book discussions at the moment that fiction writers are constantly writing from view points outside their personal experience, some much more credibly than others.

Kat is sarcastic, prickly, falling behind at school and fighting with her sister. But what do you expect from a young teen facing the relapse and possible death of the little brother, Beep, she loves? Her complaining attitude grated a little at first, but slowly as the story progressed and we glimpse the web of worries of which her world is comprised, I grew to care about her. Her mother suffers from an anxiety disorder; she spends a heck of a lot of time in her sick brother’s hospital room; her weirdness produces some classy bullying from girls at school and her two online friends accentuate her concerns (one is also a cancer patient and the other is suicidal.) Thank goodness that last year’s breakup with her best friend is healed (maybe.) These subplots are intense, but well developed and make for a well rounded authentic protagonist and teen world.

She spends a lot of her free time on line, which rang totally true.Using cyber connections as a means of dealing with the trauma felt therapeutic and plausible. I really like the addition of the online FB alter ego she creates. Humor and hope permeate this heavy topic and the author achieves a persuasive cancer narrative from the point of view of a sibling. The title is poignant; the opening sets the tone perfectly and the ending is 5 star. A great debut and good addition to YA shelves.

This entry was posted in Book recommendation, young adult and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dessert First – Book Recommendation

  1. What great opening lines. You are drawn into the story immediately. And, you know this is a story I’d love to read. I am delighted that the author has been able to pull off the story with humor and hope — much needed when there is a serious illness. What a difficult predicament for Kat — she wants to help her brother, but she also has a life. Reminds me a bit of the dilemma in “My Sister’s Keeper,” with one sister being created to save her sister. Will definitely check this book out. Excellent review!

  2. Erik - TKRB says:

    This book sounds powerful. I think I will need to find it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.