Book Review | Always Smile by Alice Kuipers


Always Smile by Alice Kuipers

Non-Fiction, Biography, Health

Kids Can Press | May 7, 2019

5/5 Stars



Not long ago, seventeen-year-old Carley Allison had it all. She was on the edge of fame as a singer and composer. She was reaching for the highest levels as a competitive skater. She had a brand-new boyfriend and a golden future waiting after graduation. Her world came crashing down when she was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer in her throat. Her case, doctors said, was one in 3.5 billion. Faced with an uncertain new future, Carley did what she always did: she rose to the challenge. Cancer treatment tested her, but Carley was fearless and strong. Told she might never sing again, Carley beat the odds and performed on television for an audience of millions. “Ladies and gentlemen,” the announcer said, introducing her, “The voice you’re about to hear is a miracle …” Carley died before her twenty-first birthday, but her memory lives on in the countless people she touched with her courage. 

Author Alice Kuipers weaves their stories with the blog Carley kept in the final months of her life. These many voices — plus plenty of Carley’s texts and photos — show her transformation from ordinary to extraordinary, and convey her personal rules for living well in the worst of times.


My Review

Picture this, you’re seventeen, fit, healthy, and you’re about to graduate high school and then all of a sudden, it’s all taken from you. That’s what happened with Carley Allison. She’d been doing all the things she normally did, exercise, skate, sing, except breathing seemed to be getting harder, and everyone just thought it was exercise-induced asthma. Turns out, Carley had a tumor in her throat so large it was causing her to only have 2cm of airway to breathe. Can you imagine? Once Carley got a grip on what she was facing though, she decided to fight, she decided she was going to look at this as another competition, and she didn’t like to lose.

This book as a whole was quite inspiring, sad in some places, and wonderful too. Through this book, it’s a collection of amazing things Carley’s friends and family had to say about her and memories from before and during her journey. There are also some posts from Carley’s blog that she kept which help the book read kind of like a memoir/biography. There were only good things said about Carley and I don’t believe that’s a coincidence. She was determined not to let this rare form of cancer take the things she loved from her, especially singing.

I really liked reading this book several different reasons, but the main reason is because of how inspiring and amazing Carley’s story is. There were a few parts in the book where I just had to set the book down for a minute and regroup. She taught herself how to sing again, with a trach mind you, which is totally awesome. She went through a tracheotomy, AWAKE, excuse me, but I don’t think I’d be able to handle that. 

I’m really glad I decided to request this book because I almost didn’t. I highly recommend that everyone needs to read this book. It’s inspiring (as I’ve mentioned several times), Carley is awesome, and just reading all the things people have to say about her and her life will brighten your day. Sadly, Carley Elle Allison was taken from the world on March 31, 2015. There’s a foundation in which you can donate money to help others struggling with conditions like Carleys.


Here’s a link to Carley’s Angels, a foundation dedicated to helping other’s in Carley’s situation.

Here’s a link to Carley singing after having to teach herself again (also this leads to her YouTube).


Thank you, Kids Can Press and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

teal thanks for reading


2 thoughts on “Book Review | Always Smile by Alice Kuipers

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