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Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling
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Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,084 ratings  ·  229 reviews
This novel-in-verse—at once literary and emotionally gripping—follows the unfolding friendship between two very different teenage girls who share a hospital room and an illness.

Chess, the narrator, is sick, but with what exactly, she isn’t sure. And to make matters worse, she must share a hospital room with Shannon, her polar opposite. Where Chess is polite, Shannon is rud
Library Binding, 272 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Schwartz & Wade
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Mrs. Danvers Also consider American Fuji, by Sara Backer, in which the protagonist is a woman in her late 20s with ulcerative colitis.
Lucy Frank Someone with IBD wrote this. I've suffered from Crohn's Disease since I was 19.

Community Reviews

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3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,084 ratings  ·  229 reviews

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Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Books in verse might not be for me.....
E. Anderson
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've long been a fan of novels in verse, and this new verse novel by Lucy Frank comes with a twist. TWO GIRLS STARING AT THE CEILING is the story of Chess, who is hospitalized the night after what should have been a high-school-movie-esque-party-turned-romance. But everything went impossibly wrong, and now she's sharing a room with a sad old lady and one of the angriest girls she's ever met. Chess' room mate Shannon has a story to tell, too. And her no bullshit way of thinking -- and talking -- ...more
Interesting format, keeping what happens on each side of the hospital room on its respective side of the page. I also appreciate that Frank decided to tackle an unusual topic. There are a lot of YA books about girls with all kinds of illnesses, but I can't think of any others that cover Crohn's.
Melissa Chung
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Well this was a journey. I was definitely skeptical going into this book. Picked it up thinking it was a mental health book. It's not. It's a fictional story about Crohn's disease in verse. Which is super random. 3 stars.

Let's start this review off with the book itself. I love the cover. I love that the front and back of the book is a picture of two different patients. I love that the title goes up the naked spine. That title reminds me of the curtain between the two girls in the hospital room.
Eden Grey
Literary Merit: Excellent
Grades: 8-12
Characterization: Good
Recommended: Highly Recommended for libraries and schools

While the physical format of the book may be daunting to some readers, it will inevitably intrigue and fascinate others. Told in verse physically divided on the page in a representation of the curtain separating the characters' hospital room, this novel tells the story of two girls' very different struggles with Crohn's disease. The narration is well-written and easy to follow. The
Ava Jae
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't read much novel-in-verse, but this was great. Really appreciated the thoughtful and respectful chronic illness representation with not one, but two main characters. I don't have Chrohn's, specifically, but some of the lines especially about being young and ill, or about not being able to trust your body really resonated with me.
Disability in Kidlit
“Teenagers’ bodies are already battlegrounds in our society and on a personal level, and I really related to Chess’s shifting experience: she’s been unhappy with her weight in the past, then found a new accommodation with her body through running, and now she has to get to know it all over again as the Crohn’s makes her weight drop. Having Crohn’s in your teens can mean you go from worrying about whether you’re growing in all the right ways to worrying about whether you’ll grow at all.”

Read cont
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author did a great job writing about a rather sensitive topic. What threw me off was the formatting and the flow of the story. I usually enjoy stories written in verse but this one was just a little off for me. The different perspectives were really interesting though, and I loved the subtle similarities and differences!
I read the eGalley of this one, and the author's note about the format made me wonder if I'd miss something...and from other reviews, it looks like the lack of formatting on the eReader might be okay? I had no problem following this at all.

Told through the voices of Chess and Shannon, this novel in verse is about two girls dealing with crohn's disease, one who has been working with the illness for a long time and one who, after an unfortunate incident with a boy she was beginning to like, is ne
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars
This book was awesome. It was so great that it had me staying up in bed with a flashlight. I really love novels in verse. They make me feel....different, I guess. This novel showed me the beauty of love and that level of having so much pain and feeling so unimportant that the best thing to do is just die. I felt sad for Chess as time passed by, but I felt even more sympathy for Shannon's situation. All throughout the book, I wanted to know the answer to a very big question: What happened on the ...more
Kendall Earles
When I first picked up this book I had extremely high expectations. It is hard to find books that specifically cover IBD, and I was hoping to feel deeply moved and connected to the novel. Instead I simply found that the book was only a grazing of stereotypical teenage emotions in the time of any disease. Very little of the book actually touched on the hardships of learning to live with chronic illness. Instead, meager things such as petty relationships and worries about friends reactions were at ...more
Wen Baragrey
Having Crohn's myself, I absolutely adored this story, the first I've ever read relating to Crohn's that wasn't informational. At first, it was confronting to see so many aspects about this disease laid out there in a way that felt almost too familiar. But that quickly passed and became the sort of familiarity that has you nodding and cheering and feeling a sort of relief that you didn't have to say all of this stuff yourself.

All in all, I can't recommend this book highly enough, whether you're
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This book hit a bit close to home since I was diagnosed at 16 like Chess. I remember having similar feelings and thoughts as her, but my disease was more severe like Shannon. Like Shannon I was rushed into emergency surgery on my 17th birthday which saved my life. This book was a walk down memory lane. I wish I would have had something like this to read when I was sick and undiagnosed or even newly diagnosed to help take some of the negative stigma and loneliness that comes with having IBD.
Nancy S
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this is a couple of hours, and liked it a lot, because I liked the girls, and the fact that they acted, and thought, like teenagers. There is not all that much of a story line, but one is not really necessary.

An interesting way of writing, and one I was not sure I would want to read, but in the end, pretty effective.
Margaret McGuire
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review is based on an ARC provided to me by the publisher.

An excellent novel in verse, appropriate for 8th grade and up. Chess and Shannon have only their illness in common. As they both recuperate from medial crises they teach one another to endure. The story flows beautifully, unfolding at just the right pace.
Jenna Carter
Honestly I don’t understand why this book doesn’t have more hype. It was very well written and very unique in how it is written in a lyric style. I loved this book and finished it very quickly. I can’t stop thinking about the characters and their story.
Amanda Liljewall
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Read

Very quick, good read. The layout took a but together used to but definitely worth the read! Very easy to connect with the characters.
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A verse novel, with damaged teenage girls in a hospital setting?! This book is captivating, quick and entertaining. A perfect YA combo
Amy Layton
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a simultaneously interesting and mortifying book that upholds gender conventions.  Mortifying, because Crohn's disease is all about bowel symptoms, and that's not exactly a pleasant topic, and interesting because it elaborates upon the good patient/bad patient dichotomy that is so pervasive in nursing ethics.  I think it's important--if you're planning on reading this--to really be aware of the fact that these are two women suffering.  Chess gets even skinnier--thank goodness, she thoug ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chronic-illness
This is gonna be weird for me to rate.

While the book itself didn’t surprise me in any way, it helped me feel seen and a few quotes really resonated with me. I highly recommend this short book to anyone who deals with chronic illness, especially if you have a GI related illness. While I don’t suffer with Crohn’s, I realize how much we (people with chronic illness) suffer through on a daily basis and how we just gotta keep pushing through and fighting, no matter how difficult it gets. Along with t
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting way to look at chronic disease, and somewhat eye opening, as it is not something I'm familiar with.
Betty Jo
I enjoyed the last half more than the first. The first bit felt too stream of consciousness and mixed with flashbacks it was hard to follow. Still enjoyed this book. Just wasn’t great. I did like how it was like two sides of the curtain. I also liked Shannon more than Chess and would have preferred to hear more about her.
Well, my prediction was wrong. So that's good. I like when I am wrong in thinking a book will be predictable.

That being said, it wasn't the most exciting book. No major events. Quite literally two girls in a hospital room, chatting and keeping each other company. Pleasant characters, and the verse format was novel, but not a very exhilarating book.

One thing I did not like is that there's a hint of something sinister that happened on Chess' date that made her end up in the hospital. It really l
Bryan Adams
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It was recommended to me by my girlfriend, who has Crohn's. She was diagnosed in high school, and dealt with a lot of severe complications early on. She's amazing, and I literally couldn't ask for a better person to be with. I've read other books and articles on Crohn's that have helped me understand it from a medical perspective, but none of them can describe the emotional impact that Crohn's or any chronic illness has. I feel like this book has done that in some small way fo ...more
Aug 05, 2014 added it
Shelves: teen, free-verse
This free-verse novel is really a play.

The page layout lets each sufferer in a three-bed hospital room have her say with as-it-happens immediacy. Readers also hear the interior thoughts of the teen main character, Cress, suffering as much from Crohn's disease as mortification that the illness might have ruined otherwise perfect first date. Limited audience, but nicely realized.
Melissa Wehunt
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, fast read. About sickness... which isn't usually my thing. But at least it was Crohn's and not cancer like every other sick book. I enjoyed the realistic view of dealing with such as a disease as a teen. The feeling of betrayal by your body and the feelings of inadequacy when thinking of how you "should" be with your friends and family.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Payne
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose to write my review on the fiction novel, Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank. The novel is about two girls, Shannon and Francesca (also referred to as Chess), who share a hospital room and a sickness. The girls at first irritate each other due to how opposing their personalities are. Shannon is gnarly; Chess is calm and decorous. Shannon cannot tolerate pain while Chess can. Despite this factor, the girls still try to communicate with each other. Throughout the novel the girls ...more
Laina SpareTime
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cross-posted from my blog where there's more information on where I got my copy and a whole bunch of links and everything.

(Maybe rounded up from like a 3.75 but I'm not that picky.)

I quite enjoyed this! I don't read a lot of poetry or books in verse, but every time I do, I always think I should read more. This has a very unique format, too, where a line down the centre of the page represents the hospital curtain. It sounds super confusing to explain but it works very well when you actually get t
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars, read-2017
Another book in my quest to read a book about someone like me.

This book would get 2 stars, if that, if it wasn't about chronic illness.

More on that later.

Things I did while reading this book:

1. "who's talking now?"
2. "they've had all of two conversations in what universe are they friends??"
3. "seriously who the heck is talking??"

Top three reactions:



Chess gets sick. She shares a room with Shannon, who is also sick. Shannon is very vocal about being sick and angry about it (fair e
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