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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NEW RELEASE!! The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young

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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By the time we got to the house and I let us into my bedroom, I was a jittering wreck. Massive waves of nervous energy were emanating from Tobias, making me worse. He was rarely nervous about anything. Once inside my room, I waited impatiently as Tobias slumped down on my bed, elbows on knees, head in hands.

I shrugged out of my jacket and unwound my scarf. Still waiting.

“Comet,” he huffed, not looking up. “Sit down, okay, you’re making me nervous.”

“You’re making me nervous.” I sat on the armchair across from him. “You and Stevie didn’t kill someone, did you? Did Dean dispose of the body for you and now he’s blackmailing you?”

Tobias’s broad shoulders shook and he lifted his head to stare at me with amusement tinged with sadness. “You’ve got to stop reading so many books.”

“Never.”

He smiled at me, his look so tender that I squirmed with the need to shoot across the room and throw my arms around him. Instead I met his gaze and asked directly, “What happened back there?”

“I just chose you over Stevie,” he said.

I swear my eyebrows must have hit my hairline at this pronouncement. “What?”

“Stevie and some of the guys have been hanging around Dean more and more. Dean is a dealer. And he’s part of something bigger—we’re talking an adult-sized, criminal gang who deal drugs and steal cars for a living. Dean deals cocaine to kids. Blair Lochrie High School is one of his grounds. He sells to quite a few kids there.”

At our high school?

Class A drugs at our high school?

“Bloody hell,” I whispered, “Where have I been?”

“Where I prefer you—safe with your nose stuck in a book.”

“Tobias…Stevie?”

Hearing the worry in my voice, he winced. “I tried, Com. I tried to keep him out of it, but he’s so messed up and I couldn’t stop him. I hung around to make sure he was okay.”

“Is that why you’ve been avoiding me?” God, please let that be why he was avoiding me.

“Yes.” A million apologies swirled in his gorgeous eyes. “I didn’t mean for Stevie to find out about you, because I didn’t want you anywhere near the stuff he was getting involved in. But then you two got along, so well I thought you might…have feelings for each other, so I told him that he either stopped hanging around Dean or he stopped hanging around you. He agreed keeping you out of that stuff, away from the boys, was better for you. So we stopped coming around as much and then stopped coming around at all. Tonight was his initiation into Dean’s crew. It was supposed to be both our initiations, I guess, because Dean was sending Stevie to some other party with drugs, and I was following Stevie as backup. Now I’m not.”

There was so much to process in what he’d just said.

My brain blurted out the first thing it wanted to deal with. “Stevie and I don’t have feelings for each other. I don’t like Stevie, Tobias.”

His eyes widened as my tone implied that I liked someone else. “No?”

“No.”

“Good. Because I just left him to that hell.” He stood up and started pacing back and forth. “I tried to help him even if it meant hurting you, and he just let himself get pulled further down into that crap.”

I stood up, reached out to touch him, to slow him down. He stilled, looking at my hand on his arm. “What did you mean? You chose me over Stevie?”

“Comet, Dean made it clear that if I left with you, I couldn’t go around there or anywhere near him again. So I either had to stay and go with Stevie as his backup on a drug deal and leave you to handle Dean on your own, or I could walk out of there with you and leave Stevie to do it alone. For good.” His gaze moved over my face, as if he were committing each feature to memory.

My heart started thudding so hard the blood rushed through my ears. “So you chose me.”

“Of course,” he choked out. “I’d never let anything happen to you. And seeing you there…I never want to see that crap touch you again. It was a wake-up call for me. I don’t want to be a part of that shit either. That’s not me.”

Seeing something in his expression made me brave in a way I never thought I could be. Knees trembling, I stepped up to him and placed a hand on his chest, over his heart. His chest was strong and hard beneath my hand, his body heat surrounding me and that woodsy, spicy, citrusy scent he wore teasing my senses. I wanted to sway into him, hold him tight, and never let go, but I had something important to say first now that I had his absolute attention. “Being a good student, working for something, achieving something, playing hard at football…it wasn’t all for your dad, Tobias. There is no maybe about it. Deep down you want those things for yourself, too. You’re smart and good and such a special person.” I gave him a tremulous smile, wondering if how I felt for him was as obvious to him as it was to apparently everyone else. “You deserve the life you really want.”

His chest rose and fell faster beneath my hand as we stared into one another’s eyes. Tobias licked his lips, as if he was nervous. “What if I want to get my grades back up?”

“Then I’ll help.”

“And join the rugby team?”

“Then you’ll try out.”

He nodded and slowly lifted his hand to cover mine. He took a step closer to me, his breathing sounding a little shaky. The thud of his heart racing beneath my palm made mine accelerate. My legs shook and my fingers curled into Tobias’s shirt. “And…what if what I really want…is you?”

Joy flooded me. I can’t truly describe the feeling. The euphoria. The excitement and thrill and fear and worry that cascaded through me at the thought of being with Tobias King.

No matter the plethora of emotions that came with his question, my answer was instant and absolute. “Then you have me.”

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young ~ EXCERPT REVEAL

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.

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay | IndieBound

Hearing and feeling Tobias’s heart beat beneath my cheek was the most wonderful feeling in the world. Despite my worry for him and for Stevie, I couldn’t help but feel happy as the boy I loved slept in my bed with his arm around me.

The morning sun woke him around nine in the morning. He groaned and then grew still, maybe realizing I was curled up against him. For a moment I tensed, fearing he was going to regret everything he’d said last night.

Instead he trailed his fingers down my arm. “You awake?” his voice rumbled above me.

I smiled, liking the tingles that bubbled and fizzed in certain parts of my body at the mere sound of his voice. “Yeah.”

“What time is it?”

I told him.

“Crap.”

“What?” I asked, sitting up as he reached across the bed to where his phone lay on the bedside table.

“Stevie and my mom.” He cursed again as he flicked the screen. “They’ve texted and called a bunch of times. I better call my mom back first before she calls the police or something.” He pressed the screen and held the phone to his ear. “Mom,” he said almost immediately. “I’m fine.” Tobias scowled. “I’m a big boy…no…no, I didn’t…I’m with Comet…” Streaks of color appeared high on his cheeks, surprising me. Tobias rarely got embarrassed. “No, we just fell asleep…yeah…I’m on my way.” He hung up and gave me an apologetic look. “I have to go.”

At his beleaguered tone, I placed a reassuring hand on his arm. “She’s your mum. It would be weird if she wasn’t worried you didn’t come home.”

“Yeah, whatever.” He shook his head and got off the bed, leaving me to frown at him.

Tobias seemed to be in a continually bad mood with his mother. I wish I had the guts to tell him to talk to her about why he was so mad, but I didn’t want to push too hard too soon on such a delicate subject.

“I’ll go appease her,” he said, slipping his trainers on. “Then come back?”

I opened my mouth to agree and then remembered my promise from the night before. “I’m going over to Vicki’s this morning.”

“Right. How about I meet you outside the Espy around three o’ clock?”

Relieved and delighted that he not only didn’t regret saying what he had last night but that he wanted to see me again so soon, I grinned and got off the bed. Tobias gave me that boyish smile of his and I reached for his hand, needing to touch him.

He squeezed mine, a solemnity entering his gaze. “I want to invite Stevie to meet us. I’m hoping that together we can talk him out of this bullshit. When it was just me I wasn’t getting anywhere, but he cares about you. Maybe he’ll listen.”

I nodded, loving him even more for wanting to help his cousin. “Definitely. If we let him know we’re here to help him through everything with his mum but that we can only do that if he walks away from Dean and the drugs…maybe he’ll see sense.”

I hoped.

Tobias hoped, too. I could see the turmoil in his eyes and I wanted desperately to be able to take it away.

It was as I was leading him from my bedroom to the front door that I heard the hallway floor creak behind us. I turned ever so slightly, catching sight of my dad in my peripheral. Ignoring him I hugged Tobias goodbye and waved him off down the garden path. I closed the door and turned to face my father. He stood frowning at me in his pajamas, a cup of coffee in one hand, a piece of toast in the other.

“Did that boy stay over?” he asked, sounding incredulous.

His tone suggested I’d done something wrong. I stiffened. “Yes.”

Dad took a step toward me, glowering now. “Don’t you think that’s something you should run past us first? You’re only sixteen, Comet.”

“Almost seventeen.” I bristled. How dare he suddenly play the parental card! Just when I was happy and didn’t need him, he wanted to stick his nose in where it was not wanted! A fire lit inside me and swept out of me before I could control it. “And let’s not play the concerned parent act, Kyle.” I strode toward my bedroom and shoved open the door. “You don’t get to decide which parts of my life you want to take an interest in. Having a kid? Kind of an all-or-nothing deal.” I stepped inside, gripping the door in my hand as I sneered at him. “You decided long ago it was nothing for you. No changing your mind now.” And with that I slammed the door in his shocked face.

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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