AUTHOR: Margaret Lesh
RELEASE DATE: March 6, 2015
FORMAT/PAGE COUNT: Kindle/175 pages
PUBLISHER: Story Rhyme Publishing
Fifteen-year-old Stacy questions the strange world of high school, love, her role in a harsh universe, and life, in Normalish.
People tell you high school's so great and wonderful, but they're lying. It's mostly horrible and full of disappointment. It sucks. Your best friend abandons you. The jerk you're in love with pretends to be into you, and then the big dump. The boy you've really clicked with as a friend decides to go all crushy over you, so you break his heart just like yours was -- smashed into little pieces. Your sister goes mental, and you get involved with a guy who’s even crazier than she is (who you know is a very bad idea, but you do it anyway). Math only adds another stink of failure to the whole thing.
High school blows. Just ask freshman Stacy. She’d want you to know. (From GOODREADS)
EXPECTATIONS: I know the author through Absolute Write. I expected a great read! I've been intrigued by Normalish ever since I first read the synopsis.
MARKET/GENRE: Young Adult/Contemporary. This also had romantic elements and skated occasionally on the fence of MG...but thematic elements prevent it from landing comfortably there.
"When I was twelve years old, I learned not to talk about death." ~ Stacy, Normalish
So begins a story of a young girl who eventually talks about everything. Stacy is a character I immediately liked. She's vulnerable and on the page, just like every great young adult character should be. She isn't afraid of telling the reader how she feels...it's her vulnerability that drags the reader in. We immediately trust her. This trust allows us to settle into the story and discover where it leads us.
Where the story leads us is onto a roller coaster of events that any young girl of fourteen/fifteen would be lucky to make it out of in one piece. As Stacy is so raw and forthcoming with her emotions, so straightforward with where she stands on everything, we the reader are confident she'll make it through to the other end. But it's still a roller coaster, there's still edge of the seat moments where you hold your breath and hope for the best.
When Normalish opens, the reader is given a few quick insights. Stacy does not have a best friend, she does not have a boyfriend and her father has passed away. These are big obstacles for a fourteen-year-old. She's dealing with the loss of her father, while attempting to ride the wave of no-best-friend-ness, while pining for the day she can say she has a boyfriend. Put into this complicated mess the fact that her sister--the one she shares her bedroom with--is going insane, and you have quite a life to navigate through.
Stacy takes us with her through every step of the story. We are there when the boy she has been losing sleep over finally makes his move and we are there when the wrong boy makes his move. When her sister is temporarily institutionalized, we are there to see Stacy discover yet another boy. As she falls head over heels, we are happy for her. But, of course, we are also reticent. She does, after all, meet this third boy in the institution where her sister is recovering.
I mentioned that Normalish skates on the fence of MG. I say this because Lesh does such a fantastic job of keeping Stacy's voice at her age level. I can't imagine how difficult that would have been. Stacy is fourteen when the story begins and fifteen when it ends. She goes through some pretty tumultuous circumstances in the story, yet she keeps the voice of a young girl at her age level. If not for the serious elements involved, I would suggest this would fit into middle grade as comfortably as it fits into young adult. It's only the issues that Stacy deals with that bumps it into YA only. And Lesh does an amazing job dealing with these issues. Stacy said at the stories onset that she learned not to talk about death, but then she walks us through her story. It is such a poignant look into the harsh reality that some young teens live.
I would happily recommend this book to anyone. I can't really go too far into the story without giving away certain elements. Just know that if you choose to read it, you can trust that Stacy will do a magnificent job telling you what happens to her. She will share the intimate details of her life and her pain...and eventually, her joy. Trust me, you'll want to be there when Stacy tries to discover what it is to be normal...or normalish. Lesh is a fine storyteller...one I will be looking for more from in the future!
Expectation: Met and exceeded. Stacy's story will stay with me for a long time. Her vulnerability makes her a powerful young adult character...a great female lead who is not afraid of being an honest and strong individual. She shows the reader that no matter your circumstances, it does get better. I loved this story.
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