Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Fifteen Seconds of Normal" by Alex Marestaing

Fifteen Seconds of Normal
by Alex Marestaing

I'm so glad I got the chance to read Fifteen Seconds of Normal by Alex Marestaing. Don't miss this one! This review opportunity is brought to you by YA Bound Book Tours.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on I’m Nobody.

Step 1: Transfer high schools
Step 2: Hide your Tourette’s
Step 3: Find your fifteen seconds of normal
Kaeya Garay has a plan. And it seems to be working. But when a curious interruption named Thatcher Kelly stumbles upon her "safe" place in the school’s abandoned art gallery, her grand plans for normalcy are suddenly derailed.
Set over the course of three weeks, Fifteen Seconds of Normal is the quirky saga of a literature obsessed teen on the edge of a meltdown and the hope driven heroine who begins to pull him back. Fans of Eleanor and Park be warned. You won’t be able to put this one down.
A Breakfast Club for a new generation from EPIC Award finalist Alex Marestaing, author of I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages.

Click below to read an excerpt.

Praise for the Book
"All the characters leaped from the pages and came alive. I laughed, cried, pondered, and was inspired. I could not put it down and was so sad when I finished reading it. This book will inspire teens and adults alike." ~ iwilkinson
"It's worth noting the story isn't always easy but that there are real moments of joy mixed in with the more difficult ones. The synopsis and cover may have initially drawn me to Fifteen Seconds of Normal, but the tone and characters kept me reading this interesting YA contemporary story." ~ Zili Robins
"I thought that the author did an extraordinary job with her character development and I instantly connected with both Kaeya Garay and Thatcher Kelly! [...] Overall, I thought that this book was well worth my time and I strongly urge everyone to give it a try." ~ Aurora Hale
"I cannot even begin to say how great this book is. A story that shines a bit of light on so many things that happen in life. I think the characters were great. Kaeya's TS and how she is choosing to deal with it is touching. The dynamics of how the story falls into place is different from what I've read. I love how clean the story is. No vulgar suggestive topics, languages is completely rated-G. This is instantly a favorite for me, because something a character does reminds me of someone I cherish. The author's writing style is definitely a change. I like how the characters share the spotlight. Really so good." ~ Hadassah H.
"Alex Marestaing is a gifted speaker and incredible young adult novelist, and this most recent novel is a great representation of his talent. A mixture of hope, disappointment, love, and fear, Fifteen Seconds of Normal is a story of becomings and beginnings in a very modern, very real world." ~ Marc Ellens

My Review
For sixteen-year-old Thatcher Kelly, "talking to dead authors was an inescapable habit of his, a tribute to the books that had embedded themselves in his soul" and "collecting more beautiful words from more beautiful books [was] another obsessive habit of his." A recent transfer to Glen Canyon High, Kaeya Garay tries to maintain a low profile and keep her Tourette's Syndrome hidden. But an altercation at their school throws Thatcher and Kaeya together, along with film buff Sam, and their lives will never be the same again.
The author's writing is full of beautiful turns of phrase and delightful metaphors and similes that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. My only complaint is the similarity of the characters' names: Kaeya, Kieran, Quentin. When Thatcher and Kaeya initially bond over Hemingway, you can see that these two are meant to be together. How they get there is the fun part. Sam plays an integral role as a kind of matchmaker, and his movie quotes are a good foil for Thatcher's book quotes. Everything comes together so well. There's even a reference to the school's Emily Dickinson club, no doubt a nod to the author's previous book, I'm Nobody. But I was disappointed that we never find out the story behind Mrs DeGeau.
On a par with John Green, with a similar feel to The Fault in Our Stars, this is my favorite book of the year so far.

Favorite Lines
As my homage to Thatcher ("I collect lines, from books and stuff"), here are my favorite bookish lines from the book:
"...the words were birds locked in a box and flapping furiously. They needed to come out."
"...his words were rusty and stuck, like an old gate, and neither he nor Thatcher had the strength to pry it loose."
"Dad patted Thatcher's shoulder, as if he were a dog, not a son, then walked away...with millions of unspoken words buried deep in the pockets of his cheap suit."
"...the entire gallery was bizarre, surreal, like a Kafka novel...and Thatcher liked Kafka."
"She regretted the words—I've met someone—the second they fell out of her mouth. Now they were all over the floor, and her father was sifting through them like a crazed archeologist."
"After sixteen years, Kaeya could read him like the Jane Austen novels she'd practically memorized."
"Kaeya was a new novel, and he wanted to discover every line."
"Kaeya was figurative language come to life, and every time he thought of her, he remembered why he loved poetry."
"It was anger, and inspiration, and an insatiable desire to rewrite the narrative and become something better."
"...isn't love, real love, supposed to be more than just words on a poster?"
"He could feel her trying to read him, as if he were the novel."
"She was the book he'd never finish...and it was time to turn the page."
"He'd looked so defeated, as if joy was no longer a word in the dictionary."
"That feeling of hope she'd had since transferring—that life could be normal, that love was a tangible possibility, that happy endings existed beyond the pages of fairy tales—had vanished in a feeble puff of smoke."
"Thatcher looked different. Gone was the tragic expression, and in its place, strength. He'd rewritten the narrative."

About the Author
Once upon a time, author Alex Marestaing wrote a random letter to the Walt Disney Company asking if they needed any creative help. Fortunately, Disney had mercy on his embarrassing attempt to break into the publishing scene and gave him his first writing job. A lot has happened since then, including four novels, a beautiful wife, three kids, two cats, an extremely mellow dog, an honorable mention at the London Book Festival, a stint covering soccer in Europe and the US, and fun freelance work for companies such as Lego, Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and The Los Angeles Times. Oh yeah, he also speaks at conferences around the country giving writers advice such as "Writing letters to random companies isn’t always such a bad idea".