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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Haunting Miles From Ordinary Another Heavy Hitter From Carol Lynch Williams

(Image from Indiebound)

Ordinary is working a summer job - without spending every second wondering if your mother will be okay in your absence. Ordinary is going to school - without agonizing over whether or not she'll show up in your classroom wearing only her pajamas. Ordinary is mother/daughter bonding time at home - without the interference of your dead grandaddy. Life for 14-year-old Lacey Mills is so out of whack, it's miles and miles and miles from ordinary.

Lacey has only one hope for this summer: to find a friend. Just one single, solitary friend. Thanks to her mother's illness, everyone at school already thinks Lacey's a freak. And no one will come near the Mills' house after what happened the night Laurel slept over. But, maybe, maybe, Lacey's new job at the Peace City Library will produce the kind of bosom buddy she longs to have in her life. And maybe her mother's first day as a cashier at Winn-Dixie will turn into weeks and months and years of a normal adult going to a normal job acting like a normal parent. Maybe.

As Lacey watches her mother get off the bus at Winn-Dixie, she's filled with trepidation and a cautious hope. The day holds such possibility for both of them. With gorgeous Aaron Ririe flirting with her on the bus, it seems like all Lacey's dreams are about to come true. Then it takes a terrifying turn for the worse and, once again, Lacey's wishes take a backseat to her mother's paranoia. This time, though, the stakes are much, much higher. This time, there's no one for Lacey to turn to. This time, she may not be able to save her mother. Or herself.

If you've read either of Carol Lynch Williams' previous books, you're familiar with the raw, provocative tone that marks her YA fiction. True to form, the author's newest - Miles From Ordinary - gives readers an honest, albeit disturbing, look at the realities of dealing with a parent's mental illness. It's impossible not to feel for vulnerable, abandoned Lacey, who's so trapped by responsibility and guilt that doing one simple thing for herself seems horrifyingly selfish. Her story's so gut-wrenching, so real, so haunting, that it stays with you long after you've closed this taut, thought-provoking novel. Williams doesn't write light, airy stories, so be prepared. Miles From Ordinary is a heavy-hitter. One you won't soon forget.

(Readalikes: Reminded me of A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler and Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu and a little of Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams)

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for intense scenes/subject matter

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find


  1. I read Glimpse by this author and, you're right, she does tackle some heavy stuff but at least it sticks with you. Is this one written in verse too?

  2. Jenny - Agreed. I'm always interested to see what this author's going to come up with next, simply because she tackles tough issues in interesting ways.

    And, no, this one is not in verse.

  3. I need to add this one to my list! Sounds so good!


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