I read this book in 6th grade (or so) when it first come out. It had an impact on me (I feared a friend had leukemia because she was getting nosebleeds), and I never forgot it. I reread it yesterday and realized how powerful and well-written it truly is. It's an amazing first novel (from someone who went on to write other of my favorites).
While the book rarely mentions Meg's school life (and never any contemporary friends), it still conveys a sense of her whole life. I cried for her, for Molly, for their whole family. And I was angry with the parents for not sharing the seriousness of Molly's illness with Meg sooner.
It's a keeper (and I wish I'd kept my copy!)