Normalish is a YA contemporary that covers a girl’s freshman year of high school. Margaret Lesh does an excellent job of recapturing the uncertainty, the rapidly shifting relationships, and the uncomfortable, defensive self-absorption that characterizes the period.
The protagonist, Stacy, is a likeable girl who goes through a tremendous amount of growth. She has concerns that in retrospect are petty, but the author does an excellent job of capturing the adolescent desperation that makes them seem like nothing of the kind. Stacy also has real problems, of the sort which would challenge any adult, and stumbling to grow and adapt to them gives her character a wonderful three-dimensionality. I particularly like the way Stacy’s faults were portrayed─just enough to give the character verisimilitude, but never so much that I found myself disliking her. I was always firmly on Stacy’s side.
My one quibble is that I would have liked more information about her older sister, Becca, early on. Becca is mentioned, but no interactions are shown until much later in the book. Given the importance of the character to the story, a quick scene of grounding, at least enough that I was sure that Becca was a sister, and not a friend or a cousin, would have been helpful.
However, I sat down and devoured this novel in a single sitting, and that doesn’t happen often enough. The writing was clean and concise─I was never thrown out of the story because of the words the author chose to tell it. The pacing was good; I never felt the story dragged anywhere. And it was a story both worth telling and reading.
I highly recommend Normalish.