Normalish by Margaret Lesh
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Length: Full Length (175 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince
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.
In Normalish reader is following the ups (toward the end) and downs (at the beginning) of the 15 year old Stacy through her freshmen year in high school. And she is facing some tough challenges and choices, and she is dealing with lot of not so nice things. The main problems in Stacy life are:
– her father is dead
– her older sister starts to act strange and end up institutionalized
– her middle school best friend is best friend no more
– she has neither a boyfriend nor money, nor new clothes
– she hates math
Throughout the course of the story many things on this list will change for the worst in order to get finally better. Stacy’s heart will be broken, but she will also break someone else’s, and she will find a love only to lose it. She will lose the best friend, get a new friend, got a job. She will grow up and realize that thing cannot be normal, because no one can actually define what normal means and that she should be happy and enjoy life instead of feeling guilty because she is happy.
Margaret Lesh’s writing is great because, let’s be honest, often in the YA novels the voice of the main character can be either too childish, or too mature for the character age. But here Stacy’s voice is kept on her age level through whole story. Furthermore Stacy is a great character; on one hand she is vulnerable, while on the other is brave, outspoken and she knows how to stand up for herself.
But Stacy’s character is not the only one that makes this story so good. The secondary characters are well defined and they bring a whole new juiciness to the story. I particularly like Stacy’s sister’s boyfriend and Bobby (the boy Stacy meets while visiting her sister in the mental facility), because they are different, quirky, nice, and warm at the same time. I also like the family dynamics between Stacy, her sisters and mom. These girls really care for one another and they lean on each other and there is special bond between them that is so well described in the story. All in all, Normalish is great heartwarming story with the beautiful characters that I enjoyed tremendously.
Normalish is contemporary Young Adult novel. It is not Young Adult romance novel, although it has romantic elements. It is a good story that I recommend to readers of all ages who like to read Young Adult/ Middle grade genre.
I’m finishing this review with one of my favorite quote from the book:
“Normal” is all about perception. I mean, isn’t “normal” what the majority of people do? So what if suddenly ninety-nine people out of a hundred decide to walk their iguanas down the street while wearing a tutu? Wouldn’t the one guy who didn’t own an iguana and wear a tutu be the freak? And isn’t it the ones who seem normal on the outside who, in actuality, know where the bodies are buried in the backyard or are secretly in love with their toaster?