Miles From Ordinary, Carol Lynch Williams

I could not put this young adult novel down, after reading the first few pages. The subject matter is definitely riveting. The tension is palpable as the story moves toward its climax. This author has done a masterful job of getting inside the head of a child who is filled with a sense of responsibility, loyalty and duty, to a very mentally ill mother, and also inside the head of the mother, as well.
A young 13 year old girl comes of age in this touching, but also deeply disturbing tale of the obligation and guilt a child feels for a sick parent who is loved in spite of all her short comings. The guilt the child feels about her inability to help her parent is so powerful that you can feel it yourself and sympathize with her. It might be a book that adults should read as well, for it might help them understand the obstacles facing the mentally ill and their caregivers.
I am not sure what age range is appropriate for this novel. Although the main character is just 13, the concepts raised, as her memories are explored, may be for a much older young adult; perhaps it would be better for someone at least 15-16 or older so that the subject matter can be absorbed without negative impact. This is one scary book. If it is made into a movie, it could qualify for a showing on Halloween! Mental illness, with all of its ramifications, needs to be understood so that compassion is the end result, not horror or vengeance or the ridiculing of those afflicted.
Lacey is charged with a task beyond her years, of caring for her emotionally disturbed mother, with the spirit of her grandfather haunting them in the background, disturbing her mother’s thoughts and ability to live a normal life. She has lost touch with reality. Her sense of responsibility is so strong that she fails to see that she is incapable of handling her mother and keeping her safe. Her aunt, who had kept the household in a semblance of normal, has been thrown out by her mother and forbidden to return by a restraining order.
Suddenly, Lacey’s life takes a new hopeful turn. She has obtained a volunteer job in the library where her Aunt used to work and she has filled out an application for her mom to work in the local market. Her mom has passed the interview and they are both beginning work on the same day. This is Lacey’s summer vacation and she is hoping her life will change for the better.
On the bus, riding to her job, one of her neighbors, a boy named Aaron, befriends her. She lets down her guard and is hopeful that her life will now blossom into something new and exciting, bright and happy, rather than the dark and gloomy way she lives within her home, where her mom keeps windows closed and shutters tight so as not to let in anything dangerous. Yet, the day ends in a waking nightmare for her.
This book takes the readers to places they have probably not been before; it takes them inside the head of the disturbed person and the person charged with her care; the reader suffers with them and also feels their fear. For a little book, under 200 pages, it packs a punch.


About omasvoice

Who am I? I am you. I am everyone out there who loves to read and discuss and voice an opinion!
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books for Young Adults, Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

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