Author: Margaret Lesh
Release Date: October 5, 2012
Publisher: Musa Publishing Euterpe Young Adult Imprint
Goodreads / Amazon / Musa 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.
Judging from the blurb, Normalish seems like your average contemporary read about a girl thrust into the halls of high school for the very first time. Throughout her freshman year, Stacy has to deal with losing her best friend because said best friend is now too popular to be associated with her; she gains a new best friend only to find out that said best friend is nursing a crush on her; she realizes that the boy she has been in love with since seventh grade is a jerk of epic proportions; and her sister has been acting really weird - weirder than usual. See what I mean? However, by subtly yet deftly exploring serious issues usually reserved for YA titles with older MCs, Normalish is nothing short of extraordinary, and believe me, by the end of this book, you be left to ponder about what 'normal' truly means.
I don't usually read YA titles with young MCs, but I have to admit, I took an easy liking to Stacy. She was smart, witty, sarcastic and had no troubles whatsoever expressing her feelings. Moreover, since Normalish was written in a way that had the readers in Stacy's mind 24/7, I have no qualms in saying that it would be rather difficult not to like Stacy since we get everything from the inside - we get everything from the deep recesses of her mind no-holds-barred. I also loved how Mesh had Stacy dealing with the more common problems of a high school freshman (boy, friends, and school troubles) while at the same time exposing her to more serious issues such as death and mental illnesses. By seeing Stacy at both her most mature and her most naive, I definitely got to know and related to her character better.
It's also worth pointing out that Stacy's voice doesn't change throughout the course of the novel. Despite going through hellish experiences - some of which girls her age, and heck, even older girls don't ever encounter in their lives - Lesh managed to keep Stacy's voice constant at fourteen/fifteen-years-old (she celebrates her birthday within the novel). Doing so kept the story very realistic, and allowed it to flow without any problems. Lesh's writing is simply phenomenal - from the very first page, she had me truly believing that I was reading the thoughts of a girl named Stacy, and not words printed on paper by an author.
As I have previously mentioned, Normalish tackles serious issues and takes a darker turn at the last half of the book. We are exposed to people with mental illnesses as Stacy's sister Becca is institutionalized, and it is at this time that we meet a particular character that would leave his mark on Stacy's life. I was pleasantly surprised at how well Lesh had Stacy dealing with such serious issues - none of them were glamorized and looked down upon; instead, readers get to experience just how greatly they impact the lives of those who go through them, as well as the lives of those who have friends and family members going through them.
Normalish surprised me. I expected a light read that would have me good-naturedly rolling my eyes at the young MC's naivety, but instead, it left me thoughtful and fully appreciative of people who have no trouble letting their feelings and emotions be known. It also left me pondering the true meaning of 'normal', and just why so many people are so desperate to adhere to what society decrees as 'normal'. This was a very enlightening read, and I truly enjoyed my part in Stacy's freshman year.
Rating: 4 Stars
And now... for the giveaway!The winner will get One 25$ Amazon GiftCard, an ebook copy of Normalish, and Normalish bookmarks (Open INT). Also, make sure to check out the other tour stops HERE!
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