Sunday 9 July 2023

Sh!t Bag by Xena Knox

SH!T BAG: A darkly funny story about life with an ostomy bagSH!T BAG: A darkly funny story about life with an ostomy bag by Xena Knox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 296

Publisher - Hodder Children's books

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

'Come along with me on this sh!tty ride or bail out now. It's your choice . . .'

When Freya collapses and wakes up with a temporary ileostomy bag on her stomach, her dreams of the perfect summer go down the toilet. Instead of partying in the Algarve, she's packed off to 'Poo Camp' - a place for kids with bowel disease to 'bond'.

And things can only get worse. Someone has started calling her 'Sh!t Bag' . . . and it's catching on.

Freya decides to live up to the nickname, raging at her friends, her ex and the world. Only her campmate Chris seems to see past her new attitude . . .

Can Freya get her sh!t together or will she end up with just her bag by her side?

A fresh, fierce and funny story about what happens when life literally goes to sh!t.

My Review

Meet Freya, a regular sixteen year old, popular, hockey player, dating one of the popular boys, she has it all. Until she collapses and wakes in hospital to find she has an ileostomy and everything changes. Kids can be brutal, judgemental, and something like an ileostomy can have such a huge life changing impact, regardless of age. We follow Freya trying to come to terms with life now as she knows it, the impact on her body, her friends, her relationship, her family and her own body image. When she goes to a camp, against her will, Freya finds people similar to herself and trying to work through her rage and coming to terms with her new name and bag.

I think having the protagonist as a sixteen year old is a great move, whilst the majority of characters are teenagers the way the book is written, regardless of your age you can absolutely relate to the situations/interactions. Body image is something many of us, regardless of age and gender, struggle with and or have issue with as we grow. Add into that suddenly having an ileostomy so we go through a very important journey and education alongside Freya aka Sh!t bag.

The book looks at relationships, health journey, self acceptance, friendships and I think and this is so important and educates about stoma's, particularly ileostomy's. A book that teaches/educates in a non preachy and more with a *living example, you get to go with them as they endure/have their life experiences is so important. I love books like that, it helps give readers empathy and an understanding, in this case, how something as simple as a jokey nickname (pretty cruel as often can be) can impact on someone. It also shows strength of character and the vast array of emotions a person can go through having such a huge change to their lives/body and the importance of peoples attitudes to themselves and others.

It has quirks, humour, a lot of swearing (I mean the title should give the reader a heads up), anger, some teen angst but the books overall message is so much more than that. I would love to see more books that do this, I think "Sh!t Bag" is echoing for Ileostomy's what "Still Alice" did for Alzheimer's by giving you a person to relate to, going through it, and an insight into living with a medical condition, 4/5 for me.

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