Book Review: "Anything But Normal" by Melody Carlson

Sophie is starting a new school year. Shopping for it with her best friend should be fun, but nothing seems to fit, which is a major issue to a high school girl. But her biggest problem is the secret she's keeping. And she's about to find out that she won't be able to keep things under wraps for much longer. This page-turning novel explores the tangled web of choices, secrets, and love that all teen girls navigate.

Teen pregnancies seems to be a very popular topic with the media these days. Movies like Juno or the TV show 16 and pregnant are prevalent in our society. It's also interesting how Christians tend to handle this subject. Usually it's done the same cookie cutter way in every book I read. This time however, Melody Carlson puts her edgy spin on this familiar topic.

This book made me think a lot about what I'm going to tell my kids next time about sex when they are teens. I can see the dilemma that a lot of parents have. While you don't want them to start having sex until they are married, it's also not good for those that are having sex to be doing it without protection because no one told them about it. It still amazes me how the myth of "you won't get pregnant the first time you have sex" keeps going around. Even more so it's the number of Christian teens who think this. I am not quite sure what many other Christian teens are told, but I know my parents did let me know this very early in our sex talks.

What stood out to me the most was the judgmental Christians in this book. Carlson does this in a lot of her books of showing the hypocrisy of the thinking of a lot of so-called Christians and it's actually one of my favorite things about her writing. Many people have been brought up to think this way and it's sad that Sophie had to face people like that, even from her own friends and church. I remember back in high school when purity pledges were very popular to do and that several friends of mine had took that pledge, only to go against what they had pledged to do. Also interesting was the notion that it's always the girl's fault, even when it come to Christian teens. I really got annoyed at a certain character's mother for thinking her son had done absolutely nothing wrong and didn't seem to think she should taken any responsibility or take action. Therefore I was glad to a hear a certain particular rumor at the end of the book. Although actually it's rather sad when you think about the circumstances that is now going to happen again.

I did feel the ending was a bit too tidied up and rushed. There's a brief emotional moment that Sophie has with her baby before giving it up but I didn't feel as if we really got to connect with during the final weeks of pregnancy as well as what's going to happen now. Other than this, I really enjoyed this book. It takes a subject that is talked about a lot, but puts a different spin on the views normally presented. This is a really good book for older teens and one that I think all Christian teen girls should really read. It's not only a good book about teenage pregnancies but also a good look at the dangers of passing judgment.

Anything But Normal by Melody Carlson is published by Revell (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


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