Genre: Contemporary, Teen
Page Count: 284
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.67 out of 5 stars
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Welcome to the life of Max Bascom, whose home is Bascomville. Bascomville has its own special kind of normal, where fathers can get job leads from their sons and Christmas dinners can end up to be Chinese take out. Max does his best to navigate Bascomville and to keep it running as smoothly as possible through good times and tragedy. And he also forms a special bond with the girl next door, Janice, who understands Bascomville despite coming from a world much different.
This book is so fabulously written. I usually don’t take review requests, but I’m glad I did for this book. It’s part romance, part literary masterpiece, and it captures “growing up” so well. I wish I had this book when I was in middle school or high school because I can relate to making your own kind of normal.
“How do you know we aren’t? How do we know everybody doesn’t make their own?”
She considered this for a moment then dismissed it. “If everybody made their own then nothing would be normal. Nothing could ever be normal.”
That’s my kind of definition of normal. And I think everyone needs to remember that normalcy doesn’t really exist a little bit more.
I didn’t see the plot twists coming ahead of time and I never got bored. On top of that, this book is incredibly quotable. There’s some good life advice in here, like when Max helped Janice cover up vandalism on her house:
And I knew then that ultimately we can save neither ourselves nor our loved ones from life. We can only live it.
Max is a complex character that I like and dislike. He is, ultimately, human, not a hero. He tends to overreact sometimes when Janice is involved, but for the most part he’s likeable. He’s loyal to his family, loves his little sister, and wishes for a world with a level playing field.
My favorite character is his little sister Lily, though. She actually has it worse than Max. She lives at home with her parents after Max goes to college and has to deal with her mother pretending she doesn’t exist and her father pretending to be her best friend to make up for it. Her home life is lousy at best and she practically raises herself for her last years of high school. But she’s strong enough to not break under pressure and she’s not one for self-pity.
“Fair is for dorks. I don’t need fair to make things work.”– Lily Bascom
So why only a 4.5 instead of a 5?
It’s because of the long descriptions, like this one that characterizes Mr. Birnbaum, Janice’s father, through his workshop.
I stepped inside and caught my breath. It was, to me, a foreign wonderland, this workshop. I am not a particularly handy person, and the panorama of neatly arranged rows of tools hanging on pegboards, the fittings categorized in plastic bins, the copper piping slung above the rafters, the worktables and vises and clamps and braided electrical cords all echoed the prowess of this man. I felt humbled, and strangely calm. I still wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing but I was no longer nervous about it. I could leave disappointed, even chastised, and be all right with it. Such was the power of Sheldon Birnbaum and this place.
While these descriptions certainly add character and depth to the story, they can sometimes be a little excessive and make my attention lag. This book is certainly not a fluff book and isn’t meant to be one, but the long descriptions make it slightly more harder to get through than it has to be.
This is a good book for anyone to read and I can’t recommend it enough, especially to teens. It helps us remember that we all need to make our own normal.
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