Thursday, May 21, 2020

Sara and the Search for Normal

King, Wesley. Sara and the Search for Normal
May 5th 2020 by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sara, a character from OCDaniel, struggles with daily life. She just wants to be "normal", but has panic attacks, often chooses not to speak, and despite medication and therapy, doesn't feel at all what she imagines normal to be. She is in a special class and has an aide who helps her. When she goes to group therapy, she meets Erin, who has struggles of her own, pulling out her hair and eyebrows among them. She is also very talkative and respectful of Sara's difficulties, even though she is a bit pushy when it comes to being friends. This turns out to be something that works for quiet, withdrawn Sara, who is glad to be able to do "normal" friend things. Sara has other worries as well; her parents are constantly bickering, often over Sara's behavior and treatment, and Sara is also worried about the bruises that constantly appear on her new friend. Eventually, she suspects that Erin's father is harming her, and uncovers the truth with some spy methods. Will Sara be able to help her friend without losing her and deal with her parents problems as well as her own?
Strengths: It's good to see an #ownvoices writer address issues of mental health, and this is certainly on trend in that respect. Sara's difficulties are palpable; the writing really puts us inside her head. I love that she has a friend for the first time, and Erin's difficulties are also well portrayed. The fact that Sara tries to help Erin is heart warming.
Weaknesses: I couldn't remember how Sara fit into OCDaniel, but it's not necessary to read these books together. This did have a similar YA feel to the pacing, which is understandable given the topic.
What I really think: OCDaniel has circulated better than I expected, so I will probably purchase this. It struck me as sort of a Lisa, Bright and Dark for the New Millenium.
Ms. Yingling

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