Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the 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....
“No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them. (Publisher's summary from Goodreads)
Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams is an intense and gut wrenching story that brings to light a day in the life of 13-year-old Lacey. The book, a short 195 pages, packs a powerful punch that left me feeling completely drained by its intensity.
Lacey is both strong and vulnerable. Living alone with her mother who is incapable of functioning normally due to her mental illness, Lacey has had to be a child caregiver for some time. However, the child-Lacey, craves normal, and as her day and the story begins, she forces away her doubts and focuses on the possibility that normal is a bus ride away for both her and mom.
I loved how Williams allowed us to tag along with Lacey as she begins her new job at the library where we get a hint of the 13-year-old she should be, but also expertly weaves the reasons why this has been completely out of her reach. Lacey voice is as authentic as can be and it is poignantly clear that Williams knows how to maintain a tension that drives a story forward building to a terrifying and heart-wrenching end. I really needed to save Lacey, but admired her devotion to her mother too.
Miles from Ordinary is one very emotional read and has me wondering just how many kids end up living their lives with a parent who has a mental illness like Lacey’s mother. Williams prose is shockingly simple, but beautifully poetic, and while this is my first experience reading one of Williams’ books, it will not be my last. As the title prophetically states, the story is certainly miles from ordinary and am thankful I made the trip.
Source: Received ARC copy for review from publisher