Josephine has typical pre-teen worries around best friends, first crushes, and family problems, when she gets the news that her mother has breast cancer.
Unsure if she really wants to share the news without anyone, the choice is taken away from her when her twin brother, Chance, dyes his hair pink to support their mum. Suddenly Josephine is forced to rethink her priorities, and face tough questions about what really matters – and if other worries make her a monster in the face of her mother’s diagnosis.
Tackling the usual array of pre-teen angst – jealousy, sibling clashes, typical family troubles, and first love – alongside big, potentially life-changing issues, Pysos’s novel is filled with relatable characters and a flawed by a largely lovable cast.
Josephine’s reaction to her mother’s diagnosis, her underlying anger, guilt and fear, alongside her outward need for control and normalcy ring true, creating a well-rounded protagonist who worries just a tad too much about what others think but comes across as an authentic pre-teen voice.
Worried that she is a bad person for thinking of things outside of her mother’s cancer. Josephine seems fairly in tune with her emotions. A little mature for her age in places but still having distinct, believable worries and concerns for her age, Pysosdoes a great job of not only explaining issues around mental health and fear, but normalising them.
While the adults in Pink Hair and Other Bad Ideas primarily play a background role, Josephine and Chance’s mother’s reaction to her diagnosis, as well as how she seems to try and juggle that with reassuring her kids comes across so well.
Tackling the issue around how different people deal with the diagnosis of a loved one in different ways, we see both the selflessness and selfishness that can follow, as well as interesting points raised around how we cope with big news, and how considerate we should be of those around us.
If you know a tween reader who is struggling with anxiety, peer pressure, or is experiencing emotional upheaval, Pink Hair and Other Bad Ideas is a great book to show how they can work through and recognise their issues.
If you’re more of a general fan of middle-grade or YA fiction, there are a few plot strands that feel unresolved and rushed in places, but overall it still feels like a satisfying read.
Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros
Middle Grade, sensitive issues
Available in paperback