Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review: Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Pages: 197
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: March 15, 2011
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "
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...."

Lacey isn't your average teenager; she has a huge responsibility that is often overwhelming.  Lacey takes care of her mom who suffers from a severe mental illness.  This summer all Lacey wants is to be normal and work in the library while her mom starts her new job as a cashier at the local grocery store.  Lacey spends most of her time worrying if her mom can handle this new job or if she is going to crack under the pressure; after all, they need the money.  Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams is a powerful read. Williams knows how to grip the hearts of her readers and not let go until the end.

This story is a quick read and is told in only one intense day.  However, Williams is such a brilliant writer. She is able to clue the readers in slowly regarding Lacey's background and experiences through flashbacks and memories embedded into the present day.  Slowly, the horrible truth that is Lacey's life is revealed and readers can't help but feel invested in her life. I was gripping the novel and sweating towards the end!  It was hard to read the second half, but I had to know what was going to happen to Lacey.

Williams, the author of The Chosen One, doesn't write mindless books that you bring to the beach and zone out with.  She writes memorable novels that are evocative and make readers think and feel.  For example, I was so frustrated with Lacey's aunt. Seriously.  I was having a hard time with her. I kept wondering why she left Lacey with her mom, who is deteriorating quickly, but through very effective flashbacks, the truth of the matter is revealed.  There are some moments that are pretty violent and intense; in fact, if you aren't a fan of psychological thrillers, I'd skip this one.

I also kept thinking about certain students I've had through the years and their home lives.  As teachers we expect students to focus in class, do their homework, complete projects on time, etc, etc, but sometimes we learn the truth about a student's home life that is very similar to Lacey's and I can't help but think about how a homework assignment really doesn't matter. This kid is just trying to survive!  It breaks my heart how some children will never get to experience a carefree childhood, but one thing is for sure, Miles From Ordinary not only made me reflect, it tugged at my heart as well. It's such a haunting tale.

While this book isn't as good as The Chosen One, it is still a riveting tale that will leave readers breathless as only Williams can do.  Williams is such a captivating writer and if you are looking for an absorbing story to read this spring, you must pick up Miles From Ordinary.  In fact, I am hosting a giveaway this week, thanks to St. Martin's, so keep your eye out for it!

*Read an excerpt

*Thank you to St. Martin's for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I can't wait to read this book! :) I've read The Chosen One and loved it! And I agree that her books make you think and they are very memorable. Great review!

  2. Great review. I haven't read any books written by Carol Lynch Williams, so I'm looking forward to read this one. But I think I will start with the Chosen one. :)

  3. Wow, to be that intense and only span the time of one day...definitely speaks to the author's writing ability. Sounds good if not emotional at times....may have to check it out. Thanks for sharing...and happy reading!

  4. Whoa, this one sounds intense. It's amazing she's able to convey so much emotion and make the story have so much depth when the story is only written over the course of a single day. I'll have to be in the right state of mind for this one, but it seems like one that will stick with me for a while:)

  5. I loved The Chosen One, so I can't wait to read Miles From Ordinary.

  6. Really, REALLY want to read this. Great review!

  7. Thanks for checking out my review, guys! I appreciate it.

  8. I'm really glad you liked this one!! I think it might not be my style-too intense!! thanks for the great honest review!

  9. This one does sound intense! I've heard a lot of good things about both of these books by Carol Lynch Williams, but I've yet to read any. Great review - I'll add these to my list.


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