Juliana Stone is an author who is familiar with the hearts and minds of teens. Her newest YA novel, Some Kind of Normal, deals with the after effects of a drunken driving incident chronicled in her previous book, Boys Like You. Here is Trevor Lewis, whose life has been turned upside down after a car accident in his Junior Year in High School. He’s missed some of his Senior Year due to the resulting coma and has to live with the after effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which includes difficulty with simple tasks, such as playing the guitar and getting the words out properly. Issues which he tries to keep secret from the world. To make matters worse, Trevor must pass his Government Class in order to graduate. His summer tutor, Everly Jenkins, has issues of her own. On the outside her life is in perfect harmony, smart and pretty with the perfect home and parents. As a preacher’s daughter her life seems flawless, yet she too has been carrying a secret for over a year. A secret which could tear her family apart if revealed. These two injured teens find comfort just in the fact of knowing there is someone else out there struggling with obstacles beyond their control to repair. Despite their instant attraction to one another, the author slowly builds up to the point where they are able to verbalize their feelings. The relationship is not a smooth one, as each feels unworthy due to their perceived inner flaws. It is halfway through the novel before they are able to find comfort in each other’s arms. Although Trevor has never had trouble finding a hook up, he realizes that Everly is someone special and is willing to wait until she is ready to take the relationship to the next level. Everly is unsure of her emotions, and is torn between her desires and whether she is ready to fully commit to Trevor. Both teens must work through their demons before they can become a couple. Parents, siblings, and friends play a major role in the story, sometimes making life easier and sometimes worse. When circumstances lead to devastation in both of their lives, their reactions have repercussions which threaten their friendship. In the end, Trevor and Everly must accept “some kind of normal” to replace their past expectations and accept the reality of the new norm. A tender love story of teens left to face some harsh issues at a young age.
This is a romantic story suitable for Middle and High School students, although older readers will enjoy the book as well. When Trevor and Everly finally kiss, you could audibly hear the “ahhh!”. Not only is it beautifully written, but the dialogue is witty and the author paints a visual picture that is easy for the mind to capture, plus the characters’ behaviors ring true. Trevor and Everly take turns advancing the plot by telling their version of events. No one is perfect and the answers to the various dilemmas are not readily available. While there are problems to deal with, the reader has not been invited to a pity party. Don’t expect a fairy tale, happily ever after ending, but a realistic look at people moving forward with their lives in spite of their individual issues. Four stars.
I would like to sincerely thank Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.