ARC Review: NORMAL (Something More, #1) by Danielle Pearl

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4 “I got you” stars

Aurora Pine heads to Port Woodmere in Long Island, NY to finish out her senior year of high school. There she has a chance to start over. Be someone else. Someone different than the broken girl she is now. She is hoping “New Rory” can avoid drawing the attention to herself.

I don’t want to be “in” anything but invisible.

Her tragic past has left her closed off and unable to deal with normal things around her. She has internal and external scares that remind her of the horrific events in her life. However, at her new school she finds that though all high schools are similar in many respects, not everything is the same. As a small group of people become her friends, can she heal from her past and maybe even open her heart to love?

I really enjoyed NORMAL and the way this story was written. The back and forth between the present and the past kept me engaged and flipping pages as fast as I could. Nothing is completely straight forward so I had theories flitting through my mind every time something new happened.

The flashbacks transported me back in time and revealed the tragic past that constantly haunts Rory.  The pain and fear is still very real which just adds to the tragedy and it broke my heart. Carrying the past on her shoulders makes it difficult to get by, leaving her wishing for a different life. A normal life.

But thoughts…creep back into my consciousness… Words from another lifetime. One that maybe over, but one so devastatingly ingrained what I’ve become that I can’t move on to a new lifetime. I’m in limbo, and I fear I’m here for good.

The story was attention-grabbing with complex characters that were well developed. I really liked Rory. Though she is broken she still fights to be normal. When everything transpired, I was filled with sadness, anger, and frustration. I wish there were more people on her side and she didn’t feel so helpless and alone. I felt what she was going through, especially the fear and anxiety she dealt with.

There seems to only be one person who offers her solace from her past – Sam Caplan. He is an amazing character. Sure he is gorgeous, popular, and athletic, but it’s what is inside that makes him exceptional. His sweet actions and unending loyalty warmed my heart. From the start he showed his goodness and protective nature. His support and comfort  made an impact on her life that was believable.

He was the one I’d been afraid of. I don’t know what I’m afraid of now, but he’s the only thing holding me together.

I loved watching their friendship develop naturally and easily. The trust between them was beautifully portrayed, as was the way Sam broke down Rory’s walls. They have a connection that they can’t deny and relate and understand each other more than they thought possible.

For the first time in the longest time, I allowed myself to indulge in something I never thought I’d have again – something I’ve only had vague little inklings of in recent days.

Sam’s sweet words won me over so its not surprising Rory’s feelings were far from platonic. Sam and Rory were really good together and I enjoyed watching them fall for each other. He played a huge part in her path to healing and watching Rory’s confidence grow was wonderful. I wish there was a little less back and forth and pushing away though. I understand Rory’s fears and why she acted the way she did, I just wish she believed in herself like Sam did.

I really liked the side characters. I loved Rory’s mother with her support and unconditional love, but I also loved Rory and Sam’s friends. They were kind, accepting, and didn’t pry. They were there for them when needed most and didn’t judge Rory or Sam for their actions or pasts.

The serious theme in this book is written realistically and it will definitely be a trigger for some. It’s upsetting and painful and I was so angry, frustrated, and brokenhearted by the way things went down. The ending leaves us with a cliffy that made me want to scream and now I have to see what happens!

This is the first book by Danielle Pearl that I have read and I know it won’t be the last!  I really enjoyed NORMAL and can’t wait to dive into ReCAP to get Sam’s POV, and then OKAY for the conclusion to Sam and Rory’s love story.

*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*


The Something More series


Buy: Kindle Ebook  |  Paperback

ReCAP (#1.5)
Buy: Kindle Ebook  |  Paperback

OKAY (#2)
Buy: Kindle Ebook  |  Paperback


The Something More boxed set
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