Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My first experience with Melody Carlson books was reading the DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL series.  It filled a spot on my classroom shelves for girls looking for a good, Christian based read.  When I noticed ANYTHING BUT NORMAL, I decided to give it a try.

In this stand-alone novel the focus is on Sophie.  She's an honor student heading into her senior year.  Dreaming of a career in journalism, she is hoping to be chosen as editor of the yearbook and maybe even the school newspaper.  Her parents are supportive of anything that will earn her some college scholarship money, but as far as involvement in her actually daily activities, her parents are a bit too busy to keep up.  That doesn't seem to matter much to Sophie since sometimes the less parents know the better. 

Over the summer Sophie worked at a church summer camp as a counselor with the middle school campers.  That's where she began a relationship with Dylan.  It was hard to believe he would be even remotely interested in her.  When he ended up being the one to give Sophie her first kiss that turned into a heavy make out session, she felt a bit guilty since she knew her best friend Carrie Anne had had a crush on Dylan for years.  During the weeks at summer camp, Dylan proclaimed his love for Sophie and despite her purity pledge; she gave herself to him twice. 

Now that the camp job is over and her senior year is starting, Sophie is shocked to realize Dylan hasn't even looked at her, and she may have a secret too terrible to reveal.

When Sophie finally admits to herself that she is pregnant, she can't imagine how she is going to tell her parents, her best friend, and all the people who think of her as a "good" girl.  How could this happen?  She has watched it happen to other teens and always judged them harshly.  Even though she is struggling with how to deal with her own situation, her eyes are being opened to the facts and fate surrounding other teens dealing with similar issues.

Author Melody Carlson combines a very present teen problem with its potential impact on Christian values.  Sophie isn't a Bible thumping religious fanatic, but she is a teen struggling to live a respectable life that honors her commitments to a church she believes represents the values she views as important.  Carlson illustrates what might happen when choices are made that compromise those beliefs.  Readers will see both positive and negative reactions from Sophie's family, friends, and church community that are a fair representation of how the real world might react.

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