“You don’t know anything about me or what I imagined.” I said quietly. “I’ve lived in squalid, flea-infested apartments, the backroom of a dry cleaner, and even the backseat of a van. I wake up every day and wonder if there will be any food in the cupboard. In school, I was the new kid more times than I can count on my fingers, and yet, I still managed to get into a university. But that dream was smashed by my parent’s lack of money.” I hated the waver in my voice, but I was angry enough to continue and he didn’t seem inclined to stop me. “I’ve slept on a mattress that had more fucking holes than the moon, and a day with hot water in my life is a day of wondrous luxury. Easy? I wouldn’t know easy if it slapped me in the face. I can handle it.”
I adore Eden. She’s wonderfully written and not a typical YA heroine; she knows what she wants from life and has worked hard to achieve her goals. When life knocks her down, she doesn’t pout and feel sorry for herself, she carries on with determination to find her own way. She’s selfless and strong with a heart of gold. She loves her family even when they disappoint her and she’s not ashamed of where she comes from. She refuses to be intimidated by anyone, Jude included, and wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself. She’s handles situations maturely and she doesn’t let her feelings for Jude supersede her responsibility to Finley.
“Since I first met you, I’ve memorized every inch of you, the slope of your neck, the curve of your breasts, the sultry pout of your bottom lip, and all I could think was that I wanted to put it all on canvas.” I lifted my face and peered up at him. He drew his fingers down the side of my face. He laughed quietly. “I thought I could handle it, and I was doing pretty well until I sat across from you and looked up at you from my canvas. It all fell to pieces then, and I knew I’d been fooling myself. To have you sit a few feet away and only touch you with my eyes was too much to bear.”
At first, Jude comes off as a total jerk but it wasn’t long before I was able to see what a truly wonderful person he was. He is a typical “oldest child” who takes on the role of caretaker. He loves his sister and is insanely protective of her. He wasn’t your average spoiled rich kid; social status did not matter to him and he wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed to fall for someone from “the wrong side of town”. When he looked at Eden, he didn’t see the yard sale clothing she wore or the run-down apartment she came from; he saw, what no amount of money could ever buy, an incredible girl with a thoughtful, caring heart.
“I was just going on first impressions, and I could have been totally wrong, but it seemed that this was a girl who had grown up with everything but who would never look down at someone who had less. There was something truly genuine and trustworthy about her.”
Finley King is the supporting character that brings Eden Saxon and Jude King together. She’s a pivotal part of the story and I fell in love with her instantly. She is a very well-written, multi-layered and complex character. The relationship between her and her brothers was believable and very real as was her instant connection to Eden. Everyone was fiercely protective of her and I felt that throughout the entire book.
I can’t say enough how much I loved this book. Even though it was heart-wrenching at times, it was an easy read. The pacing was flawless and it flowed perfectly. The characters each had a distinct personality and not one of them was unlikable. They interacted very well with each other and I was able to connect with all of them, main and supporting, almost immediately. Their conversations were realistic and I understood their actions throughout the entire story. This was a heart-lifting story about the bonds of friendship and finding love where you least expect it. It was touching and genuine; a must read for anyone who believes that love knows no bounds.
Would I read this book again? YES
-Strangely Normal was released on May 13th 2013. Kindle edition is just $2.99 on Amazon right now!
Other novels by Tess Oliver can be found here.