My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

ARC Review & Swag Giveaway: This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup

Synopsis (from GoodReads):

Sometimes Hope is the Most Extraordinary Gift of All.

High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.

Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health--not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

I received this ARC  as part of Nori @Readwritelove 's Sunday Street Team and was asked for an honest review.  When I heard about the premise of This Ordinary Life, I was intrigued: high-school girl, Jasmine, tries to carve out her dreams of a future in radio, while dealing with a chaotic home life.  Her mother is having trouble dealing with the breakup of her marriage and the health problems of her seven year old son who has epilepsy, so she turns to alcohol to numb the pain.  As her mother becomes increasingly unreliable due to her drinking, it's falls to Jasmine to pick up the pieces and care for her brother.

I loved this book for it's honest portrayal of a teen coping with an impossible situation.  Although my childhood circumstances were different, I can truly relate to Jasmine's struggles.  Not being able to invite your friends over, the constant fear in the pit of your stomach from not knowing what to expect; it's all there.  

But this book is also full of humor and hope.  I laughed so much when Jasmine takes a tiny bit of revenge on her ex with her choice of songs as she DJ's for the school radio station. Her character is funny and smart.  She won't let her home life drag her down.  The book also points out that there are many caring adults like teachers and other parents who recognize kids who are struggling with family issues and want to help.  I think for most of the book Jasmine feels very much alone in her situation.  Thankfully, her teacher goes the extra mile for Jasmine and leads to her getting a shot at an internship that could change her life.

As the story progresses, Jasmine meets a cute boy named Wes to take her mind off her problems.  This only issue with him is that he also is living with seizures.  Although Jasmine is in a unique position to understand Wes's situation, she also knows the very real problems that epilepsy causes.  Plus she has trust issues after a boy she thought she loved betrays her.  Can she let herself be drawn into a relationship that could lead to such heartache?  Jasmine takes her time to get to know Wes and slowly lets her guard down.  Their texts to each other are a fun highlight of the book.  And their "non-date" dates would be sure to win anyone over.  While I wish the author has made Wes a little less perfect, I understand that this is really Jasmine's story, not his.  Perhaps there could be a sequel from Wes's perspective.  

There is so much I can relate to in this book and it's depiction of epilepsy has me thinking I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  What a challenging and unpredictable thing to have to live with.  But the book also shows that families do cope.  The ending made me hopeful for the future of the teens in this book.  It was moving and NOT sappy.


Source:  ARC copy from The Sunday Street Team

Format:  Paperback

Recommendation:  If you like reading about teens overcoming serious issues, along with some cute romance, this is a great book.

Will I read more from this author? Yes!

Now for more fun!  The author is giving away book swag for This Ordinary Life!

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