Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blog Tour: Anything But Normal (review)

Sophie Ramsay should be at the top of her game – she’s friends with the right people, she’s a shoo-in to become the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, and she’s managed to turn the head of one of the hottest guys in school.

Then a choice, made during a summer moment, unravels her plans – and changes the direction of her life forever.

Now she has a secret to keep hidden and a broken heart in need of healing.

What I Thought
In less than 250 pages, Melody Carson has crafted a story that features a realistic and view of teen pregnancy - from the vantage point of a normal, average high-school student who attends church and gets good grades.

The novel opens with Sophie returning home from summer camp, ready to begin her senior year. At first she's only dealing with a broken heart. Later, as events unfold, she discovers that her summer choice has led to an unplanned pregnancy.

Through her struggles and decisions, Carson has captured the emotional turmoil that high school senior faces when the unexpected happens.

Through the various storylines, Carson explores the various choices a young, teenage mother may find herself facing including abortion and adoption. The teen father's role is also explored, along with a church's reaction to a pregnancy in the midst of a youth group.

Without being preachy, Carson also takes a look at how people treat teen mothers - while often ignoring the teenage boy's role in the pregnancy.

In all, the book could launch an interesting series of discussions in a teen reading circle, within a youth group or at home between a mother and daughter.

The character of Sophie seems real, honest and just like "the girl next door." She could easily be a member of your youth group, hiding behind her pain.

A Teen Endorsement
Several teen girls I work with on a regular basis fell in love with Carson's "True Colors" series last summer. So I wanted to see what at least one of them thought about her newest book.

So between homework assignments, CA, an eighth grader, took time to read and give me her opinion of Anything But Normal.

She handed the book back to me with a huge smile, saying "it's awesome."

In fact, she enjoyed it so much, and talked to her fellow co-horts, that several girls in the youth group are lining up to read this book - as well as asking me to find a way to purchase the True Color series for the church library (and any other book I can get of Carson's.)

The only reservation I had in initially handing the book to one of my girls, is thinking of how I would explain to the parents about how Carson attacks controversial topics. (I figured I needed to say, "I'm giving your daughter this book, by the way, it talks about teen pregnancy in a frank way," for a variety of reasons.}

But honestly, most parents I've talked with, on a one-on-one basis, are excited that their daughters are interested in reading Christian novels. The fact that Carson approaches hot button topics through a Christian lens is a bonus. One mom told me she'd rather her daughter read the stuff at church - and find out the Christian take on an issue - than in a non-faith-based setting.

So, it's a win-win situation. The girls get a good book to read (that gasp, isn't about vampires), and the parents have a chance to talk to them about hot topics with a non-threatening tool.

More About Melody Carson
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.

Carson 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. Visit her website at www.melodycarlson.com.

You can read an interview with Carson, and a review of her latest Christmas novella, The Christmas Dog, by clicking here.

Find It Online
You can find Anything But Normal online at Amazon.com

A complete list of Carson's books available at Amazon can be found here.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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