[REVIEW] A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel

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28695491Title: A Blind Guide to Normal
Author: Beth Vrabel
Series: (Blind Guide #2)
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Middle Grade
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5
Goodreads || B&N || Amazon

Richie “Ryder” Raymond has a gift. He can find the punchline in any situation, even in his limited vision and prosthetic eye. During the past year at Addison School for the Blind, Ryder’s quick wit earned the respect and friendship of his classmates. Heading to mainstream, or “normal,” school for eighth grade is going to be awesome.

After all, what’s not to like? At Addison, Ryder was everyone’s favorite person. He could make anyone laugh, especially his best friend Alice. So long as he can be first to make all of the one-eyed jokes, Ryder is sure he’ll fit in just as quick at Papuaville Middle School, home of the Fighting Guinea Pigs. But Alice warns him fitting in might not be as easy as he thinks.

Turns out, Alice was right. In just the first hour of “normal” school, Ryder is attacked by General MacCathur II (aka, Gramps’s cat), causes his bio teacher to pass out cold, makes an enemy out town hero Max, and falls for Jocelyn, the fierce girl next door who happens to be Max’s girlfriend. On top of that, Ryder struggles to hold onto his dignity in the face of students’ pity and Gramps’s non-stop practical jokes.

Ryder quickly sees the only thing worse than explaining a joke is being the punchline. But with help from his stuck-in-the-70s Gramps and encouragement from Alice, Ryder finds the strength to not only fight back, but to make peace.

This exciting sequel to A Blind Guide to Stinkville weaves humor, recovery and second chances into an unforgettable story, with characters who will hook you from page one.

MY REVIEW

A Blind Guide to Normal is a realistically rich tale about struggling with emotions and how to cope with the things we have to live with. It is an adventure of emotions, one’s self, and how to cope, with characters that will keep you laughing even when you want to cry.

Ryder is fourteen and he wants to be normal, so he convinces his parents to let him go to a normal public school instead of a school for the blind. Plans don’t always work out how you expect them to, but is it always such a bad thing? Since nothing really happened as he expected, Ryder was forced to start feeling his anger and frustration about the unfairness of his situation. He lashed out and broke down, did some pretty bad things, and figured out a way to cope. This is his journey, this is how he heals. He isn’t always the best person and he doesn’t always want to deal with things, and this just makes his character more real and flawed. It was easy to connect with his emotions, though not his situation, which allowed us to really delve into his character so we could understand just how deep his pain ran. Ryder’s story is compelling, eye-opening, and worth reading.

Jocelyn is also a strong character. Despite her guilt and torment, she fights back and makes sure to laugh and smile. She is fierce, brave, and also flawed. I love her character, but she makes mistakes like the rest of us and she doesn’t always listen to others because she feels like they treat her like she’s glass and she hates it. She learns how to cope with everything troubling her as well, and the growth of the characters is truly wonderful.

The writing is simple but realistic, which makes it easy to fall into the story and understand the characters. You won’t be able to help yourself from falling in love with Ryder, the sweet kid who refuses to do anything but joke around so no one has to feel bad. Simple in writing but rich in emotion.

Overall, this is a lovely book I definitely recommend!

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