The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young ~ Sarah A’s Review

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Impossible Vastness of Us and the On Dublin Street series comes a heartfelt and beautiful new young adult novel, set in Scotland, about daring to dream and embracing who you are. Don’t miss THE FRAGILE ORDINARY releasing on June 26, 2018, and get a sneak peek of the book below!

I am Comet Caldwell.

And I sort of, kind of, absolutely hate my name.

People expect extraordinary things from a girl named Comet. That she’ll be effortlessly cool and light up a room the way a comet blazes across the sky.

But from the shyness that makes her book-character friends more appealing than real people to the parents whose indifference hurts more than an open wound, Comet has never wanted to be the center of attention. She can’t wait to graduate from her high school in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the only place she ever feels truly herself is on her anonymous poetry blog. But surely that will change once she leaves to attend university somewhere far, far away.

When new student Tobias King blazes in from America and shakes up the school, Comet thinks she’s got the bad boy figured out. Until they’re thrown together for a class assignment and begin to form an unlikely connection. Everything shifts in Comet’s ordinary world. Tobias has a dark past and runs with a tough crowd—and none of them are happy about his interest in Comet. Targeted by bullies and thrown into the spotlight, Comet and Tobias can go their separate ways…or take a risk on something extraordinary.

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As the beginning of a coming-of-age story, The Fragile Ordinary was amazing.  All the things I could think of to address in that genre were there: relationships with friends, parents, romantic partners, teachers, struggling to find your place in the world, bullying, drugs, questions of who you are.  As a complete story, however, it felt like it was just getting off its feet.

Comet was all of us.  She was strange and awkward, contemplative and self-deprecating, shy and introverted.  I easily identified with her and understood her desires.  The pain she had suffered at the neglect of her parents was hard to cope with; sometimes I feel like absent parenting is just as damaging and abusive parenting – in different ways of course.  Seeing how her lack of parental care manifested in her other relationships was hard.  Knowing that she was just a child and she truly had no model to understand what a person should do for the people they love, yet she still strived to be a kind and sympathetic friend made me fall a little bit in love with her.

The primary focus of The Fragile Ordinary was the interpersonal relationships Comet experienced as she finally found herself and how those connections changed.  Tobias helped her begin to find the strength she needed to speak up for herself to her friends, her parents, her bullies, and him.  Since her life had been so void of real love and affection before he entered it, it was lovely to see how beautifully she flourished when given something so simple as genuine compassion and support.

The Fragile Ordinary was a snapshot of Comet’s life in a certain, pivotal moment of her life.  She changed and grew into herself so much over the course of the novel; I almost wonder if she’d have recognized herself.  Witnessing her transformation from somewhat of a doormat to the girl who finally found her voice was fantastic.  I did feel like we were left hanging as far as where she stood with most of the people in her life, though.

I wish at least one of the many storylines going on in this novel had a satisfying resolution.  There is a case to be made for Comet’s relationship with Tobias finding some sort of resolution, but it felt so rushed, I found it frustrating.  I just wish there were a few more chapters to tie up more of the loose ends in Comet’s life.

The Fragile Ordinary is a standalone young adult novel.  While there are elements of romance in this book, I wouldn’t qualify it as a romance, but a coming-of-age story.  The book is written in first-person perspective, narrated by Comet.

Samantha Young writes powerful young adult stories.  She manages to touch on several issues facing teens today in a manner that feels timely and real.  She also manages to tie several themes that affect people of all ages, like drug use and the loss of loved ones, into those stories to add a note of poignancy readers of all ages can identify with.

It was the weekend before Christmas, and we had our last week at school ahead of us. In all the time we’d spent together, Tobias and I had never ventured out of Portobello. I didn’t know if it was a conscious decision or if we’d spent so much time concealing our friendship that we feared going out anywhere that we might be seen together. Whatever the reason, it no longer existed, and after a week of tentative silence from our tormentors I suggested he and I go into the city for the Christmas Markets and Fair.

I watched Tobias’s face as we got off the bus early that Saturday morning. He hadn’t been happy about me dragging him out of bed at the butt crack of dawn, but the market always got incredibly busy as the day wore on. As we walked passed Edinburgh Waverly train station on Princes Street the sky was still a dark violet blue, making the Christmas lights twinkle spectacularly. It was like walking into another world. White lights sparkled in the trees like Jack Frost had danced all over their branches. The Star Flyer ride, lit up in a million different lights, stood beside—and as tall—as the Scott Monument. The ride was a pole with a flat umbrella top that moved up and down and spun. Attached to that top were bucket seats on a swing. When you were in the seat you were taken right to the top of the Star Flyer and spun out like the hem of a poodle skirt. You could see all of the city from up there—a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view.

On the other side of the monument was the massive Ferris wheel. With somewhere in the region of twenty thousand lights all over it, it looked like it was covered in sparkling jewels. The wheel was more my speed, with little sheltered carriages to sit in so you could enjoy the view of Edinburgh without feeling like you were going to be thrown out of your seat.

“What do you think?” I asked Tobias as we crossed the street to stand beneath the Star Flyer.

He gripped my hand tighter in his and smiled down at me. “Pretty cool.”

I grinned back and hugged into his side as we continued to walk down the main street of the city. The center of Edinburgh was split into two historical areas. To our left and uphill the roads led to Old Town, the medieval area. Up there was the Royal Mile, where old tenement buildings towered over the wide, cobbled road. In between the buildings were narrow passageways and stairwells, leading to a “secret” underground world. The Mile stretched all the way up to Edinburgh Castle, perched upon its volcanic rock.

From down on Princes Street it felt like the castle loomed over all, majestic, proud, and as I looked at it through Tobias’s eyes, awe-inspiring.

“That is pretty cool,” he said as we stood at the lower end of Princes Street and stared up at the castle. At this time of the morning, warm lights placed strategically in the rock face of the volcano it sat on lit up the castle in a surreal, ethereal glow. The streets were quiet, even of cars, taxis and buses, and for a moment we just stood there, huddled together in the cold winter morning, staring at all the lights.

It felt like we were part of a wonderland. Why had I not appreciated that until I was standing with Tobias, seeing it from his perspective?

From there we walked upward on our right. Here was the other historical region of the city—New Town. It was famous for its eighteenth-century Georgian architecture. Up there, where the expensive shops, nice restaurants and luxury hotels were situated, was George Street, and my eyes widened at the sight we found.

On the west end, bejeweled in green light like something out of Wicked or Disney, was Edinburgh’s Street of Light structure. It loomed as high as the buildings with two towers at the front and two at the back. Connecting those were arches, giving it the stunning appearance of a 3-D castle made up of stained glass. At night choirs and bands played under it, making the whole experience feel so magically Christmassy that it reminded me of how different my own Christmas experience was compared to a lot of people my age.

“Wow.” Tobias said as we stared up at it.

I burrowed closer to him, not just for heat, but because I couldn’t help myself from wanting to be as close to him as possible. Always.

Samantha Young is the New York Times,  USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows.  Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook& hardback June 2017

Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for HeroOn Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.

Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.

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