Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Release Date: March 15, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: ARC received from publisher
Overall: 3.5 Stars
"Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea what [Williams] has done for early teen readers…" —Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Close to Baby
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....
“No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them.
I truly think it was the cover that first attracted me to Miles From Ordinary. There's just something about it makes it difficult for me to tear my eyes away... from the tendrils of hair slightly falling into Lacey's face to the way her mouth is slightly agape. It left me to ponder what the girl was facing and even after reading the short plot summary, I was still incredibly intrigued to learn more about the girl behind the face so to speak!
It was supposed to be a summer day full of promise. Lacey's mother had seemed to somewhat to put her aside her ghosts to be coherent enough to begin her day working at the grocery store, earning money the pair of them so very much needed. As for Lacey herself, she was ready for the chance to spend a few hours away from her mother volunteering at the local public library where her Aunt Linda used to work. But soon, what started out as a day full of so much hope begins to spiral out of control...
The novel is a quick, short read yet it still felt like it was the right length. Within a short span of time, we learn so much about Lacey, her mother and the aunt who's no longer a dominant part of their lives anymore. The pacing is easy to follow along and Carol Lynch Williams does a wonderful subtle job switching to flashback scenes of moments in their past. It's during these times that we learn the full extent of just how long Lacey's mother has been sick and how compared to the past, it really does seem that her mother is finally beginning to show some signs of improving. When I found myself drawing closer and closer to the end, I grew nervous because I still had no idea what I could expect!
Lacey shows more strength and perseverance than I could ever expect from a thirteen year-old girl. She's the sole caregiver of her mentally ill mother, taking care of her constantly day and night. Although it stings for her to not have a friend she can confide in since she spends so much time watching her, she loves her mom with every bone in her body and would do anything for her. So even though she knows something is obviously wrong, she's afraid to actually on it and get help... preferring to pretend that everything is alright. She feels both guilty and excited about her new volunteering job at the library because it may finally give her a few hours of peace and time for herself to simply act as a normal teenager.
Miles From Ordinary may be a short contemporary read but within its pages is a story that will instantly reach out to your heart. Carol Lynch Williams has beautifully written a novel full of tension and the struggles of a young girl doing everything she possibly can to look after her mother... leaving off on a climatic ending that I'm sure will leave some gasping. I know I sure did!
Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for sending me this copy!