Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone

Some Kind of Normal* * * *

What is Normal?

For Trevor normal was fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves Trevor with no band, no teammates and no chance of graduating. It's kinda hard to ace your finals when you've been in a coma. The last thing he needs is stuck-up Everly Jenkins as his new tutor—those beautiful blue eyes catching every last flaw.

For Everly normal was a perfect family around the dinner table, playing piano at Sunday service and sunning by the pool. Until she discovers her whole life is a lie. Now the perfect pastor's daughter is hiding a life-changing secret, one that is slowly tearing her family apart. And spending the summer with notorious flirt Trevor Lewis means her darkest secret could be exposed.


It’s been a long fight but Trevor Lewis is out of the hospital, done with therapy and looking forward to moving to New York to pursue his dreams of being a musician.  The thing holding him back?  The last final before graduating high school.  Fortunately his guidance counselor has hooked him up with a tutor for the summer so he can study and complete the government test before the fall. Unfortunately, the tutor assigned to him is none other than Everly Jenkins, the pastor’s daughter.   

Everly Jenkins is counting the days since she found out her dad was cheating on her mom.  HER dad.  The Pastor.  Cheating on her mom.  What does a teenage girl even do with that information?  Everly has been trying to figure out the answer to that question for 382 days.  She still doesn’t have an answer.  But she does see how her parents’ relationship is deteriorating.  Tutoring Trevor Lewis isn’t necessarily her first choice for killing time but if it means avoiding the tension at home, she’ll take it.

Trevor and Everly are two people that have always noticed each other from afar but lived such completely different lives that their paths should have never crossed.  But now that they are spending a lot of time together they quickly learn how much the other has changed.  Everly, the girl that once gave a speech on the Perils of Delinquency (absolutely directed at Trevor and his friends), doesn’t look at the world with a black and white lens anymore.  Oh, she’s still straight as an arrow but she’s not nearly as ready to judge the choices other people make.  And Trevor, the guy that used to live life on the edge?  Well, on the outside, he’s still that guy.  On the inside?  He’s afraid.  The traumatic brain injury that put him in a coma is always looming.  Just because he’s awake doesn’t mean that it’s completely healed or that it ever will be.  And the fact that his memories are sometimes hazy, and that his ability to process information is often hindered (he loses words and can barely make music the way he used to) has made him frustrated and angry.

Together they slowly form a relationship while fighting their individual battles.  Trevor with his inescapable diagnosis and Everly with her family that is quickly falling apart.  When both of their issues come crashing down on them on the same night, they will have to find ways to deal with the new realities of their lives while still finding a place for each other.

I was very curious about this story.  I enjoyed the first book in the series, Boys Like You.  It was very uncomfortable (guilt always is) but it was also very, very good.  And, of course, I wanted to know what happened with Trevor.  He is both a likely and an unlikely hero.  He’s broken in some ways that will never be fixed and I loved that Juliana Stone portrayed him in a way that left the reader no doubt that those broken parts were NOT the only thing that defined him.  He’s a complicated teen hero which I greatly appreciated.

And I can say the same thing about Everly.  She’s a girl that has always been secure in her faith.  Now, not only has that faith been put into question but the person responsible for raising her and instilling the faith is the one that has given her doubts.   Her struggle to understand how the father she loved so much could tear her family apart is heartbreaking and real.  I wanted to reach in and just give her a hug.

Trevor and Everyl’s story is so much more than the bad boy and the good girl.  It’s about change and acceptance and learning what things are worth fighting for.  Juliana Stone has yet again gifted us with a wonderful contemporary YA romance.  I can’t wait for her next one.


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