I was joking with another fantasy author the other day about how all books when we were growing up seemed to be about someone's dog or mom dying. This book has someone's mom very ill from cancer, and a horribly maimed cat.
But I do remember liking it, and I would recommend it to kids still, although I know that it seems a little dated now. The mom is getting a new miracle treatment for her cancer, which has since been proven to cause even more horrible problems. Kids, however, won't know that, and will still enjoy a gripping book about the consequences faced by a typical boy they can relate to.