Title: Fifteen Seconds of Normal
Author: Alex Marestaing
Genre: YA contemporary romance
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.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange of a review through YA Bound Book Tours. This does not affect my review in any way.
When I first checked out this book on Goodreads after seeing that it was available for reviewing, I was unsure. The book had ONE rating and review, and it was a five-starrer. Naturally, I was suspicious, wondering whether the book is actually good (because many times I’ve been misleaded by too many five-stars for a book which doesn’t deserve it). But the synopsis sounded good, the cover looked good, and I wanted to give it a shot. I am so glad I did because it turned out to be really good!
I received the e-copy quite later and I had totally forgotten about the synopsis by the time I read it a few days back, so I knew nothing about it when I went in, and that threw me off a little. I didn’t like it in the beginning, so much so that I had started writing down notes. A few chapters in, though, I finally figured out a little of what was going on. Kaeya’s Tourette problem was revealed and Thatcher’s dad leaves his family. It started coming together and I forgot about notes and totally dived into it.
And despite how it seems in the synopsis, the book is written in double POV equally.
Kaeya has transferred schools to Glen recently and she’s working very hard to hide her Tourette’s Syndrome (TS). She’s also crushing on a guy called Kieran, who is pretty perfect. Her mom has also died a few years back, and that fueled her transfer. When her TS (I shall explain it further down) starts getting bad, she hides in a place called “the Gallery” and the school has given her permission to hang there and skip classes when she likes.
Meanwhile, Thatcher’s dad just left his mom for another woman and everyone in the Kelly household are breaking apart. Right on that day when all went down and he did not care to change out of his clothes from last night or even look in the mirror before arriving to school, it’s picture day. The worst nightmare ever. Having no choice at all, his picture is taken (with him wearing a Marry me Martha t-shirt), with red eyes and all. His photo is used by the students to make stupid memes and events ensue. Thatcher ends up getting in-school suspension for a long period, during which he’s put under the care of Mrs. DeGeau who’s office is basically the Gallery. The one sunny side is that he gets to spend time with Kaeya, whom he’s crushing on.
What I liked:
Let me say it in a list because, yay lists!
- Tourette’s Syndrome. I had never heard of TS before and I liked that something new and uncommon was portrayed. It is a neurological disorder characterised by facial grimaces and tics and movements of the upper body and grunts and shouts. (Yes, I copied that from a thesaurus in my phone) Basically, Kaeya makes noises, facial expressions and movements out of the blue because of it. She can’t control it and it increases when she’s stressed.
- Thatcher and Kaeya. I loved these two characters, and I honestly cannot for the life of me pick out anything I didn’t like about them. Their flaws and problems and personalities were just right.
- The parents. Thatcher’s parents had their own problems and they were not shown much but the right amount. Kaeya’s dad tries so much to help her and advice her, but being a teenager she doesn’t and he resigns that he can’t help it. He’s so supportive of her and is a cool parent.
Being a parent is like flying a kite. You build it and you’re proud of it, and you take it out and fly every day. And you love that kite like you’ve never loved anything before. Then one day, the kite starts pulling away and pulling away, until you can barely hold on to it anymore. At first you thing it’s broken, that you’ve built it all wrong. And you get frustrated and hold on tighter. But then you realize, kites are meant to fly…and you let go.
- The quotes. Throughout the book, from the beginning till the very end, quotes are highlighted and mentioned. Mostly, they’re from classics. Thatcher has a diary in which he collects quotes and lines that he likes and finds meaning in. By the end, a couple of his own quotes were shown.
- Sam. Sam is a friend of theirs and he, too, hangs out in the Gallery due to some problem, although Thatcher and Kaeya don’t know which. He loved movies and screenplays and shoots his own. He also uses lines from movies in casual conversation.
- Fifteen seconds of fame. It’s a project assigned by Mrs. D to all the three to do something and make a change. Through this, Thatcher takes charge his fame from the meme and turns it into something else completely, and I loved that.
- POC representation. As a side character, and I’m sure some reviewers would find another flaw or fact that they don’t like (I can’t say what it is and spoil y’all) but it didn’t bother me. There were POC characters.
Except for the beginning which could have been written better/differently, the book was pretty perfect. I can’t complain much. I highly recommend reading this. I’m surprised it doesn’t have more ratings and reviews, considering how good it is. It’s over there with Shuffle, Repeat and Morgan Matson books for me.