Normalish - A Contemporary Young Adult Novel by Margaret Lesh

The Outsiders is a beautiful, poignant, coming-of-age story, and I've read it many times. It resonated for me as a young teen. Why? Maybe because my family didn't have a lot of money, or because I've always rooted for the underdog. Maybe I had a chip on my shoulder. (Probably.) I'm not sure exactly the reasons, but this classic by S.E. Hinton remains a favorite, along with most of Judy Blume's books that chronicle the awkwardness, pain, wonder and bittersweet of growing up.


I lived all of that—the extreme self-consciousness, the knowledge that everyone was looking at me, talking about me, the economic struggles. At times, I felt like an alien from another planet – that whole not belonging thing. In hindsight, most of the other kids probably felt the same way. The ones who didn't maybe just lacked the self-awareness to realize they were supposed to be miserable. Or maybe they were just happy. It could happen, I suppose.


If I could give any teen or pre-teen a piece of advice from someone who's been through it, it's this: Your teen years are short. Though it may not seem like it now, they'll be over soon, and you'll have your whole life ahead of you. Once you're out of high school, the world is yours. The cliques, the little groups, the bullies – none of that means anything out in the real world. No one cares. You will get through this.


Normalish is Stacy's story of loss, of economic struggles, of being in love — or thinking she's in love — with the wrong person, and her sister Becca's mental illness. Stacy's a survivor, though, and her story is ultimately one of hope.

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