Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros
When Josephine’s mum announces that she has breast cancer, it turns Josephine’s life upside down. Instead of worrying about getting invited to the hottest party in school, she’s now counting down the days until her mum has to have life-saving surgery.
Josephine doesn’t want anyone to know, but her twin brother, Chance, has other ideas. He gets his hair dyed pink to raise awareness of breast cancer, and soon enough the entire school are planning to get their hair dyed in solidarity.
Well, the entire school except Josephine, who would never want to be the centre of attention.
My main issue with Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas is that the ages of the characters don’t ring true. Josephine reads as though she’s either seven or eight, while Chance seems more like an older brother than a twin. It feels as though they were aged up to allow for the hair dying aspect of the plot (although most hair dyes don’t recommend use on under 16s, so take precautions if you’re inspired by the characters in this novel!).
The other issue I had was that Josephine’s mum’s breast cancer was treated as a subplot. I think Andrea Pyros was intending to show that teenagers have lots of different things going on in their lives, so if a family member gets cancer it’s just one of many difficulties for them to face, but Josephine came across as shallow. She’s more interested in Autumn’s party and maintaining her social status than her mum – she even admits to herself that she completely forgets about her mum at times!
As someone who lost a close family member to cancer at the same age as Josephine, I was expecting to be heartbroken yet inspired by Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas. Instead, I was rather infuriated: Josephine is self-entitled – outraged when her best friend is upset that she didn’t share her mum’s diagnosis – and self-obsessed, genuinely believing that Chance getting his hair dyed will put her at the centre of attention. In reality, Chance gets applauded and people forget Josephine’s even his sister, and she’s not happy with that either! It’s so contradictory and hypocritical, and if I’d rolled my eyes any harder I think they would have stayed in my skull.
This book wasn’t a terrible idea, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any teenagers who find themselves in Josephine’s position, because I don’t think it’ll come across as comforting or anything that they can relate to.