SYNOPSIS AND SPOILER-FREE REVIEW:
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.
Kat is a really strong and defined character. At such a young age, she has to deal with a lot of dark and heart-shattering things. Other than her little brother's cancer relapse, she has to deal with teenage-like issues such as heartbreak, friendships and high school drama. She has adopted the parental role, as her mother is living in the desperation of an anxious disorder and her father is barely home because of his job as a lawyer. Her older sister is distant, focused on her love life and constantly attacking Kat, and though she sounds like a character you would not like at all, truth is, she is one of my favourites, especially towards the end.
Let's discuss Beep, the brave little kid suffering from cancer and a quite peculiar family. It struck me to see him being so selfless, carrying an illness like leukemia and still caring more about others than himself. His will to fight and dark sense of humor made him shine within the darkness surrounding the book. Beep has become the only thing Kat can focus on, so we could say he is the key to the story, the reason our main character is the way she is.
High school, friends and lovers are a very important part of the story. I am going to be honest here, when I first started reading I was a bit let down by high school drama taking such a big paper in the plotline, because I felt like it was overdramatised and unfocused on the main plot, which was supposed to be Beep. But then, everything falls into place, and what at first seemed overdramatised makes perfect sense and is actually necessary to build Kat and the bonds between her and other people.
In this novel we get to see some really awful classmates and mean comments, but we also get to witness a brilliant relationship between Kat and her former best friend (and crush) Evan. After a few past tragedies of their own, they go back to what they were before they grew apart, and that is beautiful. I really appreciated Evan and his presence in the story.
What I really loved about the novel is how beautifully and truthfully it is written. The author style is literally one of my favorites: full of sarcasm and life messages, metaphors and a very accurate representation of feelings. There is a great research behind these pages, and for that I am thankful, because I could believe every single word I read.
Dessert First is so funny that I even felt bad for laughing at certain jokes, but it really does get impossible to keep a straight face when Kat is being sarcastic, or even Beep! No wonder Dean Gloster is a comedian! He does it incredibly well, because the humor makes it a lot easier to go through such a hard and heart-breaking story.
I would call this book a color explosion, because it is definitely painted with some dark blues, but also with the sweetest pink and lightest spring green. I would recommend it a 100% to fans of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Eleanor&Park by Rainbow Rowell and If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Dessert First is a shocker, a moving story about life and death, love and emptiness, and hope.