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Review: Miles from Ordinary (Carol Lynch Williams)

Title: Miles from Ordinary
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 197
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this from my school's library
Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Fourteen year old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin he new job at the library, just as her mother is set to start work at the local 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....

Review: Carol Lynch Williams' other book, The Chosen One, was so good that I jumped at the chance to read this one when summer rolled around and I could check it out from my school's library and I am glad that I did. While I didn't love this one as much as The Chosen One, this is well worth the read.

Williams does an amazing job at showing a mother's mental illness through the eyes of her child. Lacey's thoughts and actions are so frenetic, so defensive, so... I don't even know the word for it.... Lacey is constantly trying to make it all okay, trying to cover for her mom, fix her mom, make the outside world see "normal". I know! Lacey is the enabler. And throughout the entire book I felt for Lacey, I wanted someone to help her, to make her life easier. A fourteen year old shouldn't have to be the parent.

Aaron is an interesting character as well. He is in the book only briefly, but plays such an important role in that he gives Lacey strength, support, friendship, and acceptance when that is what she needs the most. She actually allows herself to confide a bit in him and he doesn't run away.

I realize as I write this review that the entire book takes place over one day. My first reaction is How can so much happen in one day? But, it doesn't seem unrealistic, instead the days' events are the culmination of mental illness at its worst: when people get hurt and, finally, something has to be done. Williams handles a sensitive subject matter with ease, finesse, and sensitivity.

Geography Connection:

(photo credit for right photo)

Click to see my updated Google Map. Another book set in Florida though the town and state really are irrelevant to the plot of this book. And part of the books takes place in a library, you've got to appreciate that! I've read a couple other books set in Florida this year: 


Ti said...

Having grown-up with parents afflicted with mental illness, from what you shared here, Lacey's frenetic energy and actions sound pretty spot on. You into a "clean-up" mode. When I was little, I called it "damage containment."

On a happier note, how's the weather out by you? It's been a bit chilly and foggy here in the mornings but by afternoon, sunny and hot. I have't been to the beach yet because we have that new puppy now! She can't be alone for too long.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Ti--Clean up mode is a great way to describe this character, also preventative mode. We've had our "June Gloom" fog for almost the whole month of June, but in the past couple days the sun is starting to come out... just as I head to Washington state!

Athira said...

This one sounds absolutely fabulous! I find I enjoy books like these where the events happen over a single day. That is such a challenging thing to do - it should be believable, there should be just the right number of events, it shouldn't be a Dan Brown-esque kind where Langdon starts running at 12 am and by 5 am and 400 pages later, he has saved the world.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--What you said about Dan Brown's books is too funny (and so true). This book is the exact opposite: painfully true.