March 16, 2017 • Cee • Reviews

Love, Ish by Karen Rivers • March 14, 2017 • Algonquin Young Readers
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Things Mischa “Ish” Love will miss when she goes to Mars: lying on the living room floor watching TV, ice cream, her parrot Buzz Aldrin. Things Ish Love will not miss when she goes to Mars: mosquitoes, heat waves, missing her former best friend Tig.

Ish is convinced that she’ll be one of the first settlers on Mars. She’s applied to—and been rejected from—the Mars Now project forty-seven times, but the mission won’t leave for ten years and Ish hasn’t given up hope. She also hasn’t given up hope that Tig will be her best friend again (not that she’d ever admit that to anyone, least of all herself). When Ish collapses on the first day of seventh grade, she gets a diagnosis that threatens all her future plans. As Ish fights cancer, she dreams in vivid detail about the Martian adventures she’s always known she’d have—and makes unexpected discoveries about love, fate, and her place in the vast universe.


I received this book for free from Algonquin Young Readers for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “As a planet, the Earth is mostly OK, I guess. “

All Mischa “Ish” Love has ever thought about is going to Mars. Sure, she’s gonna miss her family and her parrot Buzz Aldrin, but it’s Mars! Ish and her best friend, Tig, have discussed this Mars dream for years; she’s applied to the Mars Now project and rejected so many times she can’t count it on her hands. Despite the rejections and people’s non-believing reactions to her Mars dream, she’s not gonna give up. Ish will go to Mars.

But what happens when an unexpected diagnosis throws a wrench in her future plans?

Things You’ll Find in Love, Ish

  • Ish’s brain is a never-ending machine.

Much like Kammie in The Girl in the Well Is Me, Ish’s thoughts take on a stream-of-consciousness-like narrative. It shifts from thought to thought that makes readers feel like we are really inside Ish’s head, feeling everything she’s feeling and dreaming and worrying and so on. Readers really get to know Ish, and this twelve year old girl is focused on getting what she always dreamed of—Mars.

  • Ish thinks a lot about Mars and the environment.

Ish’s thoughts are filled with everything Mars—how she’ll be the first settler, what the terrain will be like, what her life will be like. She’s focused on making her journey to Mars happen. She’s a girl who wants to see what the world—especially what Mars—has to offer. She’ll do whatever it takes.

  • Ish is quite of a loner.

Ish doesn’t fit in anywhere. Not with the girls in her class. Not really with her family who’s so much prettier than she is. The only friend she had was Tig, who she had known since she was little, but in Ish’s words, “he’s DTM.” (“Dead to me.) She and Tig planned their Mars trip, but now that he moved away to Portland, she feels left behind. Her mother does her best to encourage her to get out there and befriend others, but Ish is content in her Mars bubble.

  • The big C word throws Ish’s Mars plan off its path. 

After constant headaches and dizziness, Ish’s discovered she has a brain tumor that she likens to a Brussels sprout. This brain tumor throws her plans to Mars off its path. How can she ever get to Mars if she has a brain tumor? She’s always tired and sleeping; her hair’s coming out. Will her dreams of going to Mars going to happen?

Should you read Love, Ish? Sure. See what’s in this 12-year old’s head, who thinks of nothing but Mars. Readers will be faced with an intelligent young girl who’s a bit lonely and has to live in the reality that she may not make it to Mars, especially not with this Brussel sprout of a brain tumor. It’s a sweet, yet sad story.


One Response to “REVIEW • Up on Mars (Love, Ish by Karen Rivers)”

  1. This book sounds like it’s such a sweet story. But of course I know it’s going to be super sad, so I’ll have to read it when I’m in the mood for a good cry, haha. Lovely review :)

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