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Absolutely Normal Chaos
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About the Author

Sharon Creech has written twenty-one books for young people and is published in over twenty languages. Her books have received awards in both the U.S. and abroad, including the Newbery Medal for Walk Two Moons, the Newbery Honor for The Wanderer, and Great Britain's Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler. Before beginning her writing career, Sharon Creech taught English for fifteen years in England and Switzerland. She and her husband now live in Maine, "lured there by our grandchildren," Creech says. www.sharoncreech.com

Reviews

Gr 6-9‘Creech's newest story is told as a summer journal begrudgingly started as an English assignment. Mary Lou, 13, wonders if kisses with boys really taste like chicken; if her best friend will ever shut up about her new boyfriend; and how her visiting cousin, Carl Ray, can be such a silent clod, especially when someone has anonymously given him $5000. Later, when he is in a coma following a car accident, she rereads her journal and wonders how she could have been so unseeing. Mary Lou is a typical teen whose acquaintance with the sadder parts of life is cushioned by a warm and energetic family. Her entertaining musings on Homer, Shakespeare, and Robert Frost are drawn in nifty parallels to what is happening in her own life. When forbidden by her mother to say ``God,'' ``stupid,'' and ``stuff,'' she makes a trek to the thesaurus to create some innovative interjections. Creech's dialogue is right on target. Her characterization is nicely done also. By comparison, this book is differently voiced than Walk Two Moons (HarperCollins, 1994), lacks that book's masterful imagery, and is more superficial in theme; but appropriately so. Creech has remained true to Mary Lou, who is a different narrator, and one who will win many fans of her own. Those in search of a light, humorous read will find it; those in search of something a little deeper will also be rewarded.‘Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY

In what by now must be a subgenre in YA fiction-the novel cast as a journal written for an English assignment-Newbery Medalist Creech (Walk Two Moons) spins an affable if formulaic tale about one pivotal summer. Narrator Mary Lou, 13, the second of the five Finney children, is quite put out when she has to play maid for her uncommunicative cousin Carl Ray, 17, who comes to stay while he looks for a job. He gets one, to Mary Lou's surprise, at the hardware store owned by their new neighbor Mr. Furtz, who shortly afterward dies of a heart attack. Not only does Carl Ray remain in his new job, but an anonymous benefactor leaves him money-just like in Great Expectations, as Mary Lou points out. There the resemblance to Dickens ends: the astute reader will early on figure out the mystery behind Carl Ray's inheritance. Mary Lou is also slow to pick up clues about why her cute classmate Alex is always hanging around. Despite the occasionally creaky plot, Mary Lou's bouncy entries are still a lot of fun. Readers will enjoy her wry commentary on The Odyssey (on the school reading list), and girls especially will identify with Mary Lou's disgust at the giddy behavior of boy-crazy best friend Beth Ann and her own giggly rhapsodies on her first romance (``I am sooooo happeeeeee I can hardly stand it!''). Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

"By turning sarcastic, tender, and irreverent, this is a real piece of contemporary teen life from one funny writer. [It] will quickly make its way into the hands of readers who loved WALK TWO MOONS."Kirkus Reviews

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