Summary: Far from Normal
Far from Normal follows Maddy, a 17-year-old from Normal, Illinois who moves to Chicago for a summer internship in aunt’s sports marketing company. Away from home — and her parents’ low expectations of her — for the first time, Maddy is ready to prove that she can be excellent at something, even though she has to work hard unlike her genius brother. Things are going fairly well, until she runs into one of the company’s clients, 19-year-old soccer star, Gabe.
Gabe is Italian and is not in a great place with the press, so Maddy’s aunt Emma and his manager decide that Maddy can work with Gabe to revamp his public image. Along the way, things do not go according to plan — no thanks to all the sparks flying.
This is a VERY cute YA book! Maddy has a background as a dancer, but want to pursue sports marketing in college. All her life, her parents have compared her to her genius brother and actually told her to “aim lower” because she’s not “book smart.” The only adult who seems to believe in her is her aunt, Emma. Add the fact that she’s accident-prone and quite awkward, she struggles with feeling good enough — something that many young people may relate to.
I wasn’t a big fan of Gabe’s, to be honest, but I understood some of his motivations, and he does to redeem himself at the very end of the story. I liked that Maddy’s brother gave her sensible advice about her attraction to Gabe, and overall, her bond with her brother, as well as their easy banter was a high point of the story for me. Maddy also deals with backbiting in the office scene and there’s a lot of racing round the city, meeting deadlines, and creating content for social media, which were all fun to read. Finally, if it matters to you, there’s no profanity in this novel and while there are a couple of kissing and make out scenes, this would be a good fit for younger YA readers.
Overall: Far from Normal
Far from Normal is a sweet young-adult novel, perfect for younger YA readers. This escapist novel is compulsively readable and full of mouthwatering food scenes. With a soccer-star love interest and a protagonist who interns in sports marketing, this book is a great choice for sports lovers or anyone who enjoys books with a corporate, city vibe. Add an adorable dog, a dash of family secrets and drama, and you get a feel-good reading experience.
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I really liked Wallace’s previous YA release, Stealing Home, but this was much better! Have you read anything by the author? What are your favorite sports YA books?