Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Anything But Normal Review

Anything But Normal by Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
Release date: January 1, 2010
Source: Publisher
Other books by this author: Just Another Girl

Sophie is starting a new school year. Shopping for it with her best friend should be fun, but nothing seems to fit, which is a major issue to a high school girl. But her biggest problem is the secret she's keeping. And she's about to find out that she won't be able to keep things under wraps for much longer. This page-turning novel explores the tangled web of choices, secrets, and love that all teen girls navigate. Melody Carlson enjoys a huge audience of teen readers. Now, Revell presents another new stunning story from an author who understands teen girls right where they are.


I wasn’t sure what to expect when I dived into Anything But Normal, but I finished it in two days. I was pulled into Sophie’s story. Although Anything But Normal was in third person, something that usually irks me, I really felt connected to Sophie throughout the novel. The summary on the back left a lot to be desired, but the main plot was actually quite original. Sophie’s realistic character was interesting to read about. An honors student and big believer in God, she was the least likely candidate to get pregnant. But she did. The reader could understand all the emotions Sophie was feeling and the weight her secret had on her. As I have never been in Sophie’s situation, and hopefully never will be at such a young age, I couldn’t really relate, but there was something about the raw and personal aspect of Sophie’s story that made me feel like I was in her world, even friends with her.

A big aspect of the novel that I couldn’t relate to was the religion/God aspect. Both played rather large roles in Anything But Normal. I am not a religious person so at times I didn’t understand Sophie’s reliance on God, but Anything But Normal really opened my eyes to religion in a positive way. Purity pledges and pro-life were just a few of the things discussed. All of these ideas and views are things I’ve never really been involved in, but this novel definitely made me see a new perspective. Carlson definitely didn’t push religion on the reader, but rather explained it so the reader could understand Sophie’s faith in God even if they were non-believers.

It was especially interesting to read how Sophie changed over the course of the story. She became a stronger, more open minded person. Teen pregnancy is a topic rarely tackled in YA Literature and Carlson presented it in a unique, and interesting way. Sophie’s views on the pregnant girls changed when she stepped into their shoes, and her whole life was affected by her mistake over the summer with the wrong boy. The characters were cool, and it was really easy to hate the bad characters and like the good ones. Wes was awesome, he took Sophie under his wing and even allowed himself to be called the baby’s dad when he really wasn’t. He encouraged Sophie from the start and helped her stay strong. Carrie Anne, Sophie’s best friend, was nice, but I always felt like she was making Sophie feel bad about herself. Sophie was already overweight and struggled with the fact that her best friend was a size 2 and always dieting. Dylan was such an awful person, it was easy to realize he was never who anyone thought he was. The girls at the teen center were mainly likable, too, and it made you realize the impact the ridicule they received had on them. Overall, the pregnancy center added a lot to the book. Sophie was able to meet girls dealing with a similar problem to her own as well as learn about the hardships she was going to face when her secret came out in the open. As her due date drew closer she would have to make some difficult decisions and work hard to get her life back on track.

Melody Carlson showed that teen pregnancy is definitely not the right choice, but she also explained that you can’t just push these girls away like lepers, they’re still people.

In the end, Anything But Normal was a quick read with an important message and branched into subjects I’ve rarely read about (teen pregnancy, weight problems, and religion). Sophie was a unique character and her story will remain in my head for a long time. I’m looking forward to reading more by Melody Carlson in the future, especially her other novel, Just Another Girl.

Also- did I mention there was a character named Kelsey in this book? I’ve never read about a Kelsey! :)

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Anything But Normal is available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


  1. How odd that third person usually irks you. Sounds like Sophie turned into someone with whom I can identify. Sounds like a good book with a good message! :-)

  2. Interesting review.... thanks for the thoughts on it.

  3. I don't like third person either

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