Thursday, February 7, 2013

The New Normal

The New Normal
Ashley Little
Orca, 2013
$12.95, Softcover

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 14+
Description: Tamar Robinson doesn’t know what to do with her life. Her younger twin sisters were killed in a car accident and her parents can’t get over their grief. They can’t even be bothered to remember they have another child. So Tamar is in a sea of loneliness. It also doesn’t help that, for some unknown reason, she has gradually been losing all the hair on her body. She decides instead of whining about it she’ll try to do something. She lands a job at a chicken fast food restaurant, she stands up to her mother and demands that her parents pay attention to her and fork over the money for a real wig of human hair so she can stop wearing scarves all the time, she joins the school chess club, she earns a part in her school play, and somehow gets invited to prom by not one, not two, but three guys (granted one is gay but still—three guys!). Along the way Tamar makes some mistakes (going with the wrong guy to prom, getting in a fight with the Queen Bee of school, and more) but overall she uses wisecracking humor to try to turn her life into something normal.
Opinion: This was a quick read—I devoured it in one day. I love the cover because it is simple yet interesting at the same time. I like how it is kind of cartoony. Tamar is an awesome fighter. I’m glad that the author portrayed the sad fact that when a child dies sometimes the parents are so distraught that they do seem to forget or not care about the fact that they have other children still alive that are grieving too. This is a simple realistic story that, while not action-packed, lets readers in on the life of Tamar. I think the only thing that really bugged me was that the reason for her losing her hair was never explained (was it just stress?). I highly recommend this quick read to teens who like realistic stories.

Here’s what one of my teens had to say about it:

Sarah, 15, says, “Tamar has had an okay life. She is the oldest child and had two 15-year-old twin sisters who were always doing crazy things. One day those crazy things lead to them getting involved in a car accident which killed them. With her parents forgetting they have another daughter, life is stressful for Tamar and gets worse when she suddenly begins to lose the hair all over her body and the doctor’s don’t know why. How is Tamar’s life ever going to get better? I really liked the cover with the eyelashes. It was plain but eye-catching (haha!). I also liked how the words were arranged on the cover. I believe it did reflect the contents as Tamar wears fake eyelashes and they also kind of represent her hair loss. I thought this book had a really well-written realistic plot. The author did a good job describing the things in Tamar’s world. I really found myself able to visualize Tamar, her house, and everything else around her. I think it was a heartwarming story and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes reading realistic fiction.”

*Thanks to Leslie Bottle for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*

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