Monday, February 22, 2010

A good look at teenage pregnancy: Blog Tour and Review for Anything but Normal by Melody Carlson

A Gripping Novel That Showcases the Other Side of Teen Pregnancy:
She was smart, well-liked and about to start her senior year.
But now she has a secret to keep hidden and a broken heart in need of healing.

My Review:
Rating: 9.0/10.0

Teen pregnancy, we all have an opinion on it.  Whether we believe it's from teens with totally lax values, to teens who make a one-time mistake we all have feelings on this heated subject.  I know I had certain ideas going into this book and after reading it I have definitely been rethinking where I was coming from.

Sophie is a good girl, she attends church and has made her purity vow and despite all the wishing to the contrary she is pregnant.  What Anything But Normal gives the reader is her story.  We see the world through her eyes from her own beliefs about pregnancy and the girls who are pregnant at her school to how others begin to see her.  We see all the sides.  Should we cast out a pregnant girl or should we support her.  If we support her are we supporting looser morals.  All of these questions are looked at and handled in a wonderful way.

Whereas this subject is heavy (and the book definitely treats it as a heavy subject), the book reads quickly and I could not put it down.  It was interesting seeing it from Sophie's angle and how not everyone fits into our slots that we decide to put them in.  Sophie struggles quite a bit and her struggle is fascinating to watch.  The reactions of those around her are too.  I absolutely loved the character of Wes and how he is a great male character.  This book doesn't make either gender out to be the bad one.  All make mistakes and like in life - we all make mistakes, just some of them are seen more than others.

The Biblical basis behind Ms. Carlson's work stands true and her message is one of love and forgiveness just as Jesus did.  It's also one of responsibility which is something that often gets shuffled out of the way these days.

All-in-all Anything But Normal is an amazing read.  Sophie, her parents, and her friends make great characters and hardly any character is the book remains the same at the end as they were in the beginning - there is growth and learning in all of them.  Don't expect preachiness in this book at all - it's straightforward and believable without being over-the-top with the message - I truly believe the message you come out with from this book is what you make of it.  I took a lot away from it - especially the you need to walk a mile in someones shoes to understand what they are going through.  Another one that comes through is how wrong it is to judge others.  These are wonderful messages that should control our life more.  And again responsibility is also a big part of this book so it is not lost amongst the lessons of love and forgiveness.

I think my only real problem with this one was things were a little hurried at the end, I would have liked to have known more, but everything was tied up really well, so the ending is left completely up in the air.

Read it and see, but I think Anything But Normal will not disappoint if you want a thought-provoking and entertaining young adult book dealing with a tough subject.  Good for parents and teens alike - I can see a lot of good discussion points that can come out of this one.

Favorite Quote:
"I don't see why people have to label everything." Wes sighed. "I mean, instead of just being one thing or another, maybe we need to be better informed--and come to our own conclusions."
Rating Breakdown:
Characterization:   1.75/2.0
Plot:                     1.75/2.0
Writing:                 1.75/2.0
Attention-holding:  1.0/1.0
Ending:                  0.75/1.0
Believable:             1.0/1.0
Genre:                   1.0/1.0    
Rating:                9.0/10.0

About the Book:  
Melody Carlson is able to write to teenaged girls in ways that tap into their greatest hopes, fears and struggles and, through the tales of her beloved characters that quickly become like BFFs, help readers make sense of the confusing and complicated world around them.

This is no less true than with Carlson’s latest release,  Anything But Normal:

Sophie is your normal, average high-school girl who attends church and gets good grades. The summer is wrapping up and while she should be counting down the days to the start of her senior year, she’s anything but excited. What Sophie’s in need of right now is a fresh start.

While her best friends are worried about what to wear and the cutest guy in school, Sophie’s got bigger concerns—like the secret she’s keeping about what happened this summer. She’s about to find out that she won't be able to keep things under wraps much longer.

In this page-turning novel, Carlson offers readers a realistic and heartwrenching vantage point into the messy and emotional world of teen pregnancy. Readers can relate with Sophie who just wants to be normal and loved, but now must figure out how to deal with the consequences of what has happened.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.

Available from Revell Books in January 2010
For more information, visit

What are you Reading Monday - February 22

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books and join in!

Books Completed Last Week:

  • Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens
  • The Mark by Jen Nadol
  • Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner
  • The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
  • Anything But Normal by Melody Carlson
Reading Now:
  • The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter
  • Evernight by Claudia Gray (Kindle)
  • Absolute Power by David Baldacci (audiobook)
  • Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith
  • The Cougar Club by Susan McBride
  • Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham
  • Desert Fire by Shannon Van Roekel
  • Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn
  • Yesterday's Promise by Linda Lee Chaikin
  • Out With the In Crowd by Stephanie Morrill

Reviews Completed this week:

Reviews to do:

  • Don't You Forget About Me by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Let Them Eat Fruitcake by Melody Carlson
  • Smash Cut by Sandra Brown
  • Invitation Only by Kate Brian
  • Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris (audiobook)  
  • Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens
  • The Mark by Jen Nadol
  • The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
Summary -
Good week for finishing books, not so good for getting reviews done.  I will catch up.  I read some very good books this week and I'm looking forward to another interesting week.  I still haven't touched my own bookshelf this year, but eventually will.  It's hard when publishers keep coming out with more and more great books.  
Make sure to check out the sidebar for my giveaways.  Have a great week everyone.