Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 03.15.2011 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Orange County Book Festival (Gift)
Synopsis: 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...
Thoughts: The biggest mistake I made when starting this was having such high expectations of this author. Her previous book, The Chosen One, blew me away and going into Miles from Ordinary I expected something similar that was equally heart-wrenching. Of course it was silly of me to think that this book would be like the last one, with the story being so different, but it sounded like it would be something just as captivating. Sadly, I was let down more than I thought I would be, and while Williams is amazing at capturing the mind of a 13/14 year old girl, the story weaved into Miles from Ordinary was not extraordinary and left me feeling iffy about the whole thing.
Lacey is this quiet, simple girl who pretty much takes care of her mother, who sees and hears Lacey's dead grandfather. Being short on money, Lacey talks her mother into getting a job as a cashier and helps her every step of the way. On the first day of her new job, and Lacey's new volunteer position at the library, they head out together and Lacey hopes that this will be a new beginning for them. Unfortunately, when the day comes to an end, Lacey finds her world spinning out of control and she struggles to figure where everything went wrong.
I have to say that I liked Lacey. I totally got what she was going through and even though I wasn't exactly able to relate to her because I've never had a crazy mother, I was still able to connect with her. I think Williams does an amazing job in writing what goes on inside a young girls head, and this was probably my favorite part of the book. The secondary characters are also important, each one playing an important part in Lacey's day.
The story takes place in a day, and while it was a short read, it was too slow for my liking. Nothing really happens in the first half of the book, and while we do learn a little more about Lacey, her mother, her aunt and their complicated relationship through memories, I wasn't too captivated by the story. The book drags on as Lacey discovers her mother is missing and then attempts to find her before anything disastrous happens. The last third of the book is creepy, but also dragged on so much in those few pages, that I eventually lost interest in the weirdness and put the book down for a while.
Towards the end, there is an incident Lacey goes through, and I feel like I never really got what was going on there. It added to the creepy factor, definitely, but it is not explained once the book is concluded and I was disappointed because I expected some kind of twist! And while the conclusion is reasonable, I thought it was rushed and flat compared to the prose that is used for the rest of the book.
Overall: I am glad I gave this a shot, honestly. I definitely didn't love it and I really wanted to. It wasn't at all what I expected, but I think that was the problem. I definitely think others who enjoy contemporary/heartbreaking/powerful books will enjoy this one. I plan to pick the other books by Williams because this one will not deter me from reading more of her work. I know she is an amazing writer, and while Miles from Ordinary did not turn out to be for me, I have hope for the next book!