Book Reviews, Contemporary YA, Mental Health

Just A Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use NetGalley at no cost.” Netgalley is a special section of my book discussions where I post reviews of the digital books I read through this service. It’s quite amazing the gems you can find. I’ve yet to regret reading a book, even if I don’t like it…


3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars because while it was missing connective tissue, the purpose was fulfilled!

Teen Kai returns home on just a normal Tuesday to find a letter from her older sister, Jen. It says she’s already gone but Kai rushes over to try to save her. Unable to deal with what she finds Kai spirals into hardcore drug and alcohol use which don’t work well with the dark thoughts that start to invade her reality. Luckily her best friends have her back and report her descent to her parents who send her to a grief camp where she learns she is not alone in losing someone she loves. There she meets friends for life who help her to keep moving forward…

The first half of the book sets up the death of Kai’s sister and her descent in the face of the suicide. The second half of the book Kai is at a camp for grieving kids who have lost loved ones. I really enjoyed the contrast of the two Kai’s and how it showed therapy, recreational and otherwise, helps deal with grief and other extreme emotional situations.

I liked Kai’s best friends at home, they seemed realistic to me, even if Kai is quite self-centered. The kids at the camp (Ben, Jack, Graham and Cass) were also developed well with enough presence that I too felt effected by their stories of grief. I liked that Cass was so different from Kai and yet they had a joint bond because of their grief. It shows girls reading that bonds can be made in any situation no matter how different or odd they feel they are compared to others. There is this whisper of a love triangle for about a minute. I liked that Kai quickly moved on, chose the boy she liked and the triangle went away. This felt more true to life to me. While multiple choices are totally present in life we as the heroine tend to chose and keep moving. Then Jack became this great interaction about their loved ones, not everyone descends into substance abuse, some even appear to be upbeat but they still need to grieve and heal. And someone she could squee over with Cass! Ben made me so heart sore, but I loved the different perspective he gave on loss and the pressures that kids are under. The best relationship though was with Graham, her love interest. His relationship with his brother was the same but different as the one with her sister. This really made them coming together make sense to me and better yet you could feel their connection. Not only is the love interest a big plus but I loved how they come together as a group and help one another have a refuge to share their loss. They are all doing the activities together and it makes them feel more acceptable.

“Okay, squeeze it out. You’re gonna be okay,” Marco says with such calm in his voice. Then it happens. The simple act of another hand squeezing mine lightens my burden. For the first time since Jen left me.

Grief doesn’t fly by quite so fast as portrayed in the story. It read as if you get over a loved one dying as quickly as heart break. Suicide, especially, can’t be further from the truth, especially if this was due to depression. I know that wasn’t the intention but without connective tissue in the story to show passage of time and the healing process it just feels rushed. A strong use of the questions that linger after suicide did mitigate this effect to a point. An overwhelming question I had at the end was why? Why kill yourself Jen if your life was so good and you loved your sister Kai so much? Kai also was left with this lingering question. Just because you are healing doesn’t mean you let go of the questions.

My only other reservation was the way drugs and alcohol were portrayed. It was gratuitous. While setting up Kai’s status quo it seemed to me she made use of drugs and alcohol regularly in the course of her everyday life. As a result young readers will assume this is perfectly normal for a teenager. For those teens with a privileged lifestyle maybe and this may make the book seem more realistic to some. But to me it seemed dangerous to present such regular abuse of drugs and alcohol as typical for teens in general so much so that only a descent into hardcore abuse would appear natural when Kai’s sister died. There were also a lot of F bombs dropped in the beginning. Also Kai makes out with Graham on their first “date.” This may make me a prude but neither seem to add anything to me. The cursing was quickly dropped. And I actually quite like Graham but there seems to be no stops on Kai or on her way of life. This distanced me from Kai and her emotions more than I would have liked! I wanted to really relate to her and that was hard to do at first, once we hit camp Kai seemed to change overnight to this regular girl who I could totally relate to (making out or not!)

I really appreciated how this was a healthy look at mourning and therapy and not a dysfunctional running amuck in the end…

BOTTOM LINE: A true portrayal of how grief counseling and therapy works for the better…

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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