Author: Danielle Pearl
Pages: Estimated around 440
Series: The first book with a sequel on the horizon
Rating: 5 stars
It's the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That's what I'm counting on.
A year ago, Aurora "Rory" Pine was just a normal teenage girl - just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.
But this isn't a year ago.
Rory is broken, and now suffering from a debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that's easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There's a witness - and a gorgeous one at that.
Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly couldn't ignore.
But Sam has issues too, and Rory's past won't just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they're lucky - love. This is not a flowery romance - not for the faint of heart.
I would firstly like to apologise if this review turns out to be a bit of a shambles as after reading Normal I find I am in the midst of a rather serious book hangover. It's been a good few weeks since I've left a story world with a sense of loss and a painful ache for more (A bitter-sweet feeling for all readers) but this book seriously had me completely dangling from its every page.
I am very hesitant when it comes to giving books a 5 star rating. I only reserve my full praise for once I've finished the book and gauge how much I want more and how much I want to relive it again. After reading this book I was totally lost in returning to the real world and enjoyed my reading experience so much that it was easy to award the 5 stars to Danielle Pearl's work.
I've read a few contemporary books and indeed fantasy books about teenagers who have serious issues and even disorders and usually you find out what their issue is and why that have it within a few chapters. This book was tantalizingly reluctant to give away why Rory isn't 'Normal'. I loved this as it kept you guessing and left your brain to do plenty of detective work!
The book started to jump back in time every few chapters to show a scene from Rory's past so that by the time you neared the end, you learned through this 'chapter time travel' why she suffers from her anxieties. I really liked this as it made Rory more relatable and it gave you great insight into her life and how she has changed in such a short space of time, but also how in so many ways she is unchanged.
There were some great plot twists so the ending really wasn't predictable and in no way did it end with a happily ever after, despite Rory's fairytale name. Some people may not agree but for me, I loved this. I felt that after all she's been through, no matter what she deserves, Rory's story could never be totally perfect. Yes it could be happy, but there would always be a shadow looming over that happiness. In many way I think it did have a happy ending, Rory accomplished so many things and fought her demons with such courage but I liked how it didn't end in the usual, controversial way.
The characters were amazing. Rory was inspiring and in so many ways an excellent example and role model. Sam...well I suppose the only way to describe him is utterly gorgeous! The description of Sam and so many other characters were so well written that I could picture their images so well it was like they were alive in my mind.
The writing style was so inviting and gripping; I couldn't put it down! Every time life rudely interrupted my reading or I forgot my kindle, I could hardly stop thinking about it. This is exactly what I look for in a book and I would like to congratulate Danielle Pearl on her magnificent writing ability.
The book did have a few explicit scenes - scenes that made my heart melt and others that made it thud uncontrollably. The book drove such strong emotions out of me that I could share with Rory making it a fast-paced exhilarating read!
To round off every post I end with at least one item of constructive criticism for every book. For this one I have been sat in front of my computer screen for a good 5 minutes trying to find something and I really can't come up with anything other than the amount of swearing. I found towards the end of the book swearing was used in almost every sentence for certain characters and although I agree that sometimes it was necessary. Sometimes I thought it was maybe in excessive use. But seriously, that's all the criticism I can find!
I can't recommend this book enough to anyone over the age of 14 who wants a book with true meaning, emotion and excitement! One of the best books I've read all year...truly awesome! This book deserves so much praise and it should be a huge success...watch this space!