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Miles from Ordinary [Paperback]

Carol Lynch Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 6.06 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Griffin; Reprint edition (13 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250002605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250002600
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,875,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.0 out of 5 stars The Book Geek 21 Dec 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book literally had me sleeping with the light on. It's not just sad, it's very creepy towards the end. I spent about two thirds of the book thinking it was good and really captured the pain and loneliness of a young girl who is ostracised and has no friends because of the situation with her severely depressed mother. How sometimes she'll come home and find the house empty and have to go out searching for hours until she finds her mum wandering up the street in her nightgown. How she is forced to live with her mum's rantings about granddaddy - a man who died before Lacey (the protagonist) was even born.

That was the first two thirds of the story.

The last third scared the living hell out of me. It was like a weird combination of Poltergeist and Psycho, and the kind of ending that has you listening to every slight sound your house makes as you're trying to fall asleep. This might not be what everyone wants to hear, and probably why the book has quite mixed ratings but - for me - the strongest books stay with me for a long time, they shock me, affect me deeply, they make me feel something even if that something isn't necessarily good. That's what Miles from Ordinary did for me.

I really enjoyed the author's other novel - The Chosen One - but whether you enjoyed that or not doesn't really come into play here. The only vague similarity that the two books share is the creepiness, and that was much more pronounced in this book. Other than that they are very different. Miles from Ordinary focuses much more on the internal struggle of the main character, you find yourself experiencing her sadness and loneliness as the story progresses; where I felt The Chosen One explored the detrimental effects of a certain way of living and the way a whole society behaved, Miles from Ordinary took a close look inside Lacey's mind, it was very sad and very frightening and I'm sure I won't be forgetting this book anytime soon.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A somewhat disappointing read 8 Mar 2011
By Lucy Cat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was inclined to pick up "MILES FROM ORDINARY" after reading the author's previous novel "THE CHOSEN ONE" (which I rather enjoyed). Unfortunately, this book didn't quite meet my expectations and, in fact, was a rather disappointing read.
I should start by saying that I am definitely an advocate of books which promote mental health awareness. However, Williams' delivery was hardly encouraging and lacked any semblance of a positive resolution.

Synopsis (spoiler warning):
Thirteen-year old Lacey has been living alone with her mother for about a year in her deceased grandfather's house. In that time, her mother (who has a history of serious mental illness) has developed what seems to be extreme depression, paranoia and possibly, schizophrenia. The book is set over the course of a single day, however, the narrator Lacy tells her story through a series of memories and flashbacks. The day was supposed to be a good one-- her mom was scheduled to start her first day of work as a cashier at Winn-Dixie and Lacy was volunteering at the local library. However, things go sour quickly after her mother leaves work in a fit of anxiety only to get lost somewhere in town (we learn this happens fairly often). Lacey, with the help of a schoolmate searches everywhere for her lost mother dreading the possibility of finding her deranged or even dead. This is where the book gets a little loopy. In a sweeping change of pace, what was a depressing and seemingly plotless story suddenly becomes a flashlight-horror film on paper. It's nighttime (of course) and Lacy still hasn't found her mom but her dead grandfather's ghost appears in the living room of their house and he somehow compels her to "head upstairs to check things out." With a flashlight in hand, she slowly makes her way up the eerie, creaking hallways and starts searching the rooms in a cold-sweat panic. Soon, she starts hearing her grandfather's voice which leads her to a locked room at the end of the hall (of course). A locked room at the end of the hall can mean nothing but bad news-- and that's what it is. There's a corpse of a rotting old bird and a creepy mannequin of Lacy's aunt laying corpse-like in a bed. Then, Lacy's mom conveniently appears in the locked room speaking as both the grandfather ghost and herself. It's clear to Lacy that shes so far gone at this point there's nothing sane left of her mother. But still, her mom attempts to convince her to commit suicide by hanging herself (of course, her mom will do it with her) so they can all be together with the dead grandfather. How pleasant. Sooner or later the police and inevitable ambulance shows up, the mom gets taken away and our heroine (can you even call her this?) Lacy looks forward to facing a new day without her insane mother ruining her life.

Apart from the story being a bit odd and rather lifeless, I found the characters (apart from the ill mother) rather lacking in depth. I didn't particularly feel connected to the narrator Lacy, who was never even given a physical description. While she was courageous (for picking up the phone and calling for help) she wasn't a bold or compelling heroine. The flow of the dialogue was a bit jagged and hard to follow at times, and the vocabulary a bit dry for this level of reader.

Overall, not the best representation of this sub-genre. I would suggest the following books for pre-teen / teenage girls with strong(er) leading female roles:
Also Known As Harper
My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters
The Chosen One: A Novel

My Rating: C+
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A couple of chilling moments, but a bit uneven 20 April 2012
By Wendy Darling - Published on Amazon.com
This is a pretty intriguing novel, especially because the events mostly unfold over the course of one day and the story went in directions I didn't quite expect. 14-year-old Lacey has a lot on her plate for someone who's so young; she's trying to pretend everything is normal to the outside world, but in reality, she's dealing with a depressed, unreliable mother and it's starting to take its toll on her. Particularly because her mom still talks to Lacey's dead grandpa as if he were still alive.

While I was very interested in the premise and it's certainly a fast read, I think there is perhaps a disconnect between subject, style, content, and intended audience. The novel is very short and the plot is somewhat simple, and because it only touches on the surface of the topics of mental illness, potential foster care, etc., it seems more suited to middle grade fiction or very young YA readers. But then again, I see why this is categorized as young adult fiction, because the first person narrative and book's focus on Lacey's state of mind really would make this appealing to that audience.

This isn't the first time in which mental illness and a horror/thriller have gone hand in hand, but since there was so much focus on the former, without scenarios and solutions that seemed more sound, it became a bit more difficult to stay invested in the story. Some of the dialogue also seemed more juvenile and the events rather overly dramatic, though they certainly contribute to getting a sense of Lacey's possible paranoia and being out of control.

I'll tell you what made this book for me, however: in the last third or so of the book, Lacey's emotions reach a fever pitch in a way that suddenly and masterfully draws in the reader with an unrelenting grip. There is a creepy scene towards the end when your imagination runs wild and you're not quite sure what's real and what's not, and suddenly there is a question in your mind that never occurred to you before. That chilling moment alone is worth reading this book for, and it got me very excited about where the story was going. I just wish I had felt more of that intense interest throughout the entire novel.

Still, I'm definitely interested in checking out other books by this author, and I'd recommend this one as a library read if you're curious.

*An advance copy of this book was received by the publisher for review.*
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great concept but uneven execution 16 Mar 2011
By Neutron Lurver Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In Williams' Miles from Ordinary: A Novel, thirteen-year-old Lacey just wants a normal day. Since her aunt left a year ago, Lacey has been forced to take care of her mentally ill mother by herself. In an attempt to gain some freedom and some income for both of them, Lacey gets her mother a job as a cashier while she plans to volunteer at the local library. Hoping against hope that she will have one ordinary day and maybe make a friend in the process, Lacey drops off her mother at the grocery store. When Lacey later discovers that her mother is missing, her world begins to quickly spiral out of control.

Despite the affecting subject matter, MILES FROM ORDINARY didn't grab me as I had hoped. The topic squarely put the novel in the young adult category, but the writing and the young voice seemed more appropriate for middle grades. Because of this, I'm unsure of whether the book will find the right fit with its intended audience. Pacing was slow throughout much of the novel, but the final 30 pages became fast-paced and downright terror-filled. Though engaging, this quick shift in tone and style didn't mesh with the rest of the book. Events became unexplainable during these final pages too, in a way that made the events unbelievable. When the story does wrap up, it does so too quickly and too easily. Further, while the book accurately portrays that mental illness can lead to horrible ends, it does so in a way that I fear may unfairly stigmatize mental illness as being a condition that frequently leads to hurting others.

On the positive side, I appreciated that Williams was willing to tackle an important issue like mental illness and how it affects children. Written in first-person, present tense, the novel movingly depicted the constant worries and stresses that Lacey endured as a child trying to take care of an unstable parent. Also, while the book was slow to start, the tension really ratcheted up at the end, and I found myself truly frightened and unsettled while reading the final pages.

Though mental illness remains a neglected and overlooked topic in literature and in society, I'm disappointed to report that I felt this book didn't add a great deal to its understanding. Even with these qualms, I plan to read Williams' The Chosen One: A Novel to see how she handles another explosive and frightening topic, that of forced polygamy.

Note: This review refers to an advance reader's copy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5* stars (for lovers of the ever-building plot line) 23 Feb 2012
By M. Knapp - Published on Amazon.com
Lacey (14) is dealing with her bipolar mother, trying to hold it all together while mom falls apart. Thank goodness for a fairly normalizing job at the library, a few helpful adults in her life, and Aaron, a boy her own age. A little mean girl action, lots of craziness, and crisis upon crisis (any one of which is enough, IMHO, to sustain a book) until the story finally bursts open under its own pressure in the final chapters, leading to catharsis and conclusion. As a "mature adult" I find this plot to be over the top, but I'm not the target audience. Readers who enjoyed Williams' first book (THE CHOSEN ONE), stories such as DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS and those not quite ready for the grit of Ellen Hopkins will enjoy this book as well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and moving look at a day in the life of a family in crisis 22 Mar 2011
By C. Quinn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I chose this book because I read Carol Lynch Williams' The Chosen One: A Novel a couple of years ago and thought it was wonderful. If anything, Miles from Ordinary surpasses that earlier work with its tender and haunting look at one daughter's effort to care for a mother spiralling into madness. 13 year old Lacey has simple desires for her summer- jobs for her and her mother, and the chance to make a friend. The book traces one day in Lacey's life, one day that starts out hopeful only to fall apart in every way when her mother goes missing. Williams has a unique ability to convey the pain of adolescence and Lacey is a powerful character who is much harder on herself than any reader will ever be. Highly recommended for both YA and older readers.
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