SYNOPSIS: "Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea what [Williams] has done for early teen readers…" —Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Close to Baby
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....
My Review: Told exclusively, charmingly, and hauntingly from young Lacey’s voice, Miles from Ordinary chronicles one day. One day that started off bright and sunny, yet ended dark and stormy.
Written quite beautifully by Carol Lynch Williams, this short read will open the eyes of all its readers. Thirteen-year-old Lacey, the main character, has taken over the roll of caregiver to her mentally ill mother. She often refers to her mother as “sick” while she dialogues to the readers. A turn I highly enjoyed. When characters speak directly to the readers, it invites them in and allows them firsthand accounts of the story. Williams did a fine, fine job hooking me.
Miles from Ordinary begins with the sun rising and everything is bright and beautiful. Lacey, and her mother (Angela) have new jobs lined up; surprisingly, Angela‘s spirits are up; and Lacey’s sad bubble of a life is finally expanding for the better. All goes according to plan until it doesn’t. This day soon takes a dive into heavy darkness and the readers will be horrified, just like I was.
Horrified in a good way, I believe. Williams captures the horrors of mental illness and death frighteningly through the eyes of a young girl. A girl much older than her age says. She’s taken on the adult role in order to maintain some sort of “normal” with her mother. Some of the plot turns are not appropriate for younger readers. I was frightened the last thirty pages because of the content.
Without giving away spoilers, Miles from Ordinary is a short book packed with complex themes, and depth I appreciated. My only complaint is character relationships. I would have preferred to know more about the minor characters, especially Aaron. He was there, nice, and then he was gone. Aaron deserved to have a bigger voice. Also, the ending never reveals what Angela suffers from. It left a question mark instead of a period.
Miles from Ordinary is recommended for older teens and above.