It's the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That's what I'm counting on.
A year ago, Aurora "Rory" Pine was just a normal teenage girl - just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.
But this isn't a year ago.
Rory is broken, and now suffering from a debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that's easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There's a witness - and a gorgeous one at that.
Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly couldn't ignore.
But Sam has issues too, and Rory's past won't just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want? Find out in NORMAL, a gritty story of trust and abuse, heartbreak and salvation, and if they're lucky - love. This is not a flowery romance - not for the faint of heart.
I'm a sucker for having my heart broken. Let's just start there. This book does that a thousand times over, but as it shatters you into a million infinitesimal pieces, it rebuilds your hope one small section at a time.
Normal dives into a subject matter that I usually try to avoid at any and all costs, as I'm sure most people do when it comes to rape. But while the author gives us what I can only assume is a realistic representation of what it's like to be a victim of emotional and physical abuse, she also gives us something to see beyond the horror.
Hope. Surviving. Friendship. Support. Love. Determination.
Rory is no doubt lacking in self-confidence, but she does cling to all the above mentioned, whether she always realizes it or not. But she doesn't have these things on her own - she has them because of the people around her.
I'm not going to lie... Rory frustrated me beyond measure sometimes. She kept seeing herself as the victim rather than the survivor that she most definitely was, and she constantly puts the blame on herself for the actions of others, drawing conclusions that are so completely blind to the reality that people make their own choices. On the other hand, I could also empathize with what she had been through. Who's to say I wouldn't make the same decisions as she did if I had been through a trauma like she experienced? She'd been through a world of shit, and not just at the hands of her attacker.
I love how this book focuses on the relationships that Rory forges. The forced ones, the real ones, and obvious differences between the two. I feel like a lot of books focus on the romance between two people, but Normal extends to the friendships, emphasizing the importance of those relationships as well, and it's amazingly refreshing. Up until the freakish cliffhanger, I felt like every character was significant to Rory's story of survival; not only that, but vital to the story's development.
This is a long, long read - one that had me up way to late and up way to early to finish. I will admit, I felt that some of it repeated the same sentiments, making some of the reading long-winded, but I can honestly say that it doesn't take away from the emotional upheaval that you will, without a single doubt, experience.
Like I said, there's a cliffhanger and an annoying one at that. But LUCKY YOU, the second book was just released, so you don't have to go through the agony of waiting.
Beware: This book, at its core, is about a survivor of emotional and physical abuse. I didn't know that when I started it, but once I did, I was in it with no way of escaping. I was slammed in the face with Rory's trauma, but while this book brought what are very real and abhorrent circumstances out in the open, it gave me hope, "like a fucking cliche."
How could I not recommend this book? Please read it, but know that you're entire life outside the book will be put on hold as you do.