Friday, May 8, 2015

Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone is Some Kind of Fantastic! (Review)

Some Kind of Normal
By Juliana Stone
Sourcebooks Fire
May 5, 2015
Praise for Juliana Stone

“Just what readers need.” –School Library Journal

“A contemporary romance with a conscience…Stone writes it with confidence and style.” –Kirkus

“The classic miscommunication, the emotional pushing and pulling, the ‘will she?’ and ‘won’t he?’ of the destined-to-be-in-love. Readers of Miranda Kenneally, Jenny Han, and Susane Colasanti will enjoy Stone.” –VOYA

“A story of family, first love, and forgiveness. I couldn’t stop reading. I loved it!” –Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan

Book Info: 

What is normal? For Trevor, normal was playing fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes, and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves him with no band, no teammates, and no chance of graduating. It’s kind of 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 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.

This achingly beautiful story about two damaged teens struggling through pain and loss to redefine who they are, to their family, to themselves, and to each other is sure to melt your heart.

Juliana Stone: USA Today bestselling author Juliana Stone fell in love with books in the fifth grade when her teacher introduced her to Tom Sawyer. A tomboy at heart, she split her time between baseball, books, and music—three passions that carried over into adulthood. When she’s not singing with her band, she’s thrilled to be writing young adult and adult contemporary romance, and does so from her home in Canada.


RELEASE DATE: May 5th, 2015

FORMAT/PAGE COUNT: Kindle/304 pages
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire

PURCHASED: NOT PURCHASED - Net Galley in return for an unbiased review

EXPECTATION: This one sounded right up my alley...exactly what I like to read. I had high hopes!


Can we talk about the opening line for a second? 

I used to be the guy who had it all. 

How is that for a hook?! The promise of what was lost, of a dire future. What happened? I love this kind of hook.

I was invincible. I had goals and dreams, and I was damn close to getting them. Until I wasn't.

Stone manages to pull the reader in with just a few sharp sentences that serve to kind of take your breath away. The anticipation of story is palpable.

I love sweet contemporary young adult romance stories. This one hit all the right notes, flawlessly. Trevor and Everly are two characters that will have a place in the hearts of those readers who love Eleanor and Park, and Hazel Grace and Augustus.

Everly is the looks-perfect-to-the-unsuspecting-outside-world heroine with extremely heavy secret issues in the home-camp. Trevor is the boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had all his hopes and dreams dashed in an instant. This set-up almost guarantees a lovely heartening read.

Trevor was in a car accident when his best friend Nate drove under the influence of alcohol. Trevor's hopes and dreams? A rock band. Shooting to the anticipation of stardom and having it ripped away from you just when you can start to taste its sweetness is one of the big issues Trevor faces. But the biggest is the brain injury he suffered as a result of the car accident. Stone portrayed his struggles wonderfully. Trevor was at times inexplicably hostile, scared, determined, and confused. His fear when he started to have seizures was palpable. What began as regret for losing his chance to be a rockstar became something deeper as he began to fear for health itself.

And Everly, though at times in tune with Trevor's coping difficulties, was going through just as huge an issue at home. She is losing all faith in her preacher father, who is keeping secrets that can most definitely shatter her safe and happy family home. And Everly is the only one who knows, or thinks she knows, what those secrets are. As her situation eats away at her like a cancer, the reader can really empathize/sympathize with the huge burden she carries.

One isn't sure which of these two characters is dealing with the heavier load. When one of those characters is suffering a traumatic brain injury that threatens his entire future, it truly is a testament to Stone's ability as a storyteller to make the reader feel just as deeply about the other main character's situation.

Without giving too much of the story away, it was a wonderful ride. The two characters who at first almost loathed the possibility of hanging out with each other fell in love in a truly authentic way. Not instantly. Not perfectly. Not gushingly. At the mere idea of spending his summer being tutored by Everly, Trevor said, "The only thing worse than being stuck in Twin Oaks for the summer without my best buddy, Nathan, is being stuck in Twin Oaks for the summer and having to spend most of my time with Everly Jenkins." That is not a boy who loves a girl. That is outright dread.

But it is in their weaknesses, their individual heartbreak, that Everly and Trevor slowly strip away the wall of dread they have put up against each other. Their brokenness and pain allows empathy to enter into that place where dread and stubborn near-dislike once lived. And in slowly realizing they can talk to each other about their pain, they begin to find a common ground. They kiss.

This is a lovely story. Immediately upon reading the last sentence I downloaded BOYS LIKE YOU, which is SOME KIND OF NORMAL's predecessor. You don't need to read Boys Like You first...but you do learn more about what happened to Trevor in it. AND what happened to Nate after he made that terrible mistake that put Trevor into his new world of brain injury victim. In fact, I liked reading Some Kind of Normal first. Everly and Trevor are two characters who will stay with me for a long time. Stone did a fantastic job sculpting them into real live vibrant characters. You will love them. 

EXPECTATION?: I really adored this book. It surpassed my expectation. Though I will be honest and say I was a bit leery at the onset when it was revealed that Everly was the preacher's daughter. But the issues she dealt with on that front were pretty extraordinary and the possible good girl meets rockstar bad boy cliche was quickly erased in the unveiling of her character. This book is filled with tender moments...I adored it.



Also by Juliana Stone:

Boys Like You

Sourcebooks Fire

Book Info: 

Two Broken souls…one hot summer

Nate Everet’s life was all about acoustic guitar, girls in short shorts, and hot Southern nights.Until the accident.

Monroe Blackwell’s life was full of soccer goals, flirty skirts, and bright city lights. Until the accident.

Now Nate has a best friend who might never wake up, a summer of community service, and enough guilt to drown him. Monroe has a family that’s falling apart, a summer of banishment to her grandma’s, and a choking grief that makes it hard to breathe.

Nate and Monroe are two lost souls struggling with grief and guilt. But together, they have a chance at acceptance and finally finding the forgiveness they crave.

And now for a special treat! Here's an excerpt from SOME KIND OF NORMAL...hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Excerpt from Some Kind of Normal: 
“You got any?” he asked.
“Any what?”
“Me?” I had to laugh at that. Wow. Before last year that would have been grounds for major punishment. Heck, up until my senior year, I hadn’t been allowed to wear lip gloss. Now I wasn’t so sure that my mom would even notice, and since I avoided my dad whenever I could…
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “My skin is untouched.”
His eyes widened a bit, and I felt heat creep up my neck. Great. Now I was blushing again.
“Untouched,” he said with that lopsided smile that made my stomach dip. “I like that.”
“You do?”
“Yep. A clean slate. There’s something almost poetic about that, you know? Tragic too. How many people get a do--over?”
Trevor reached for my hand, and though my first instinct was to snatch it back, his long fingers enveloped mine before I had the chance. He turned my hand over so that my palm faced up and then traced the little blue lines that ran down my wrist.
I can’t lie. It felt weird and good, and my heart took off once more, so fast that I was surprised he couldn’t hear it.
“This is…kind of…like ink,” he said, his words a little slow as if he was thinking hard. “But it’s alive.”
He glanced up again, and all I could do was nod before my eyes dropped to his hand. Mine was still there, small and pale next to his large palm and tanned skin. I saw the thin blue veins that ran down my wrist, the ones that carried blood from my heart, electrifying my cells and feeding my body.
His thumb rested just beneath my pulse, and I swallowed thickly. Crap, he was going to feel how fast it was, and that would be embarrassing.
“Your fingers are rough.” I blushed harder and thought that there was no way I could sound any more like an idiot. Not even if I was trying.
“Yeah,” he answered. “It’s from playing guitar. I practice a lot so my calluses are nice and strong.”
“I used to play piano.”
Wow. Good comeback. I guess it was better than a clarinet or trombone, but really. Dork much?

…Had he always looked this intense?
“What?” he asked. He smiled again and I thought that on a scale of one to ten, his smile was a total eleven. “You’re into the classics. That’s cool. Didn’t picture that.”
“Really. What exactly did you picture?” Shoot. Did I really want to hear this?
“I don’t know. PBS and that Jane Austen?”
Okay. First off, I was impressed that he knew who Jane Austen was, and secondly…he knew who Jane Austen was!
I dropped my eyes, because I was pretty sure that my cheeks were as red as the roses planted just outside the library. Trevor Lewis wasn’t anything like what I thought he’d be. He wasn’t stupid and he wasn’t arrogant. He wasn’t slow or weird.
He seemed pretty normal to me.
You know, for a guy with tattoos and blue hair.