Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Miles from Ordinary - Carol Lynch Williams

Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date:  March 15, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-5512-2
Pages:  197

There are spoilers!!!!! 

MILES FROM ORDINARY captures one day in the life of a 14 year old girl dealing with a mother with a mental illness.  She's been on her own with her mom since mom threw out Aunt Linda a year ago.  The author completely captures the feelings and dilemmas of a child/teen in this situation.  She loves her mom, but gets mad at her for not being a regular mom then feels sad, worried and mad at herself.  So much for a kid to deal with!

We're never really given a description of Lacey and I think that adds to the story...you have more of a tendency to put yourself in her place.  Lacey has convinced her mother that she needs to get a job, so she gets one at the local supermarket as a checker.  Lacey will use the free time to volunteer in the library, where her Aunt Linda used to work.  At the end of the day, she finds that her mom left work after one hour.  Frantic, she searches everywhere with the help of her new friend, but can't find her mom.  They take the bus home, where she finds evidence that her mother has been home, but where she is now, who knows.

Lacey is constantly on edge and I think that not enough people really know what it's like to live with a parent with a mental illness - or at least one that refuses to take medication and does things that could be harmful to themselves and the child.  Some people have said that the author has shown mental illness in a poor light, but I think that this is the side that people don't see often enough.  The good side is that many people do take medication and seek therapy and lead happy, healthy and productive lives.  The bad side is what Lacey (and many other children) experience.

When she finally finds her mother, she is talking to and for her dead father and insists that Lacey commit suicide with her to be with 'Daddy'.  Even after that, Lacey can't stand to see her mother taken away.  Lacey has been the parent and feels responsible for her mother.

This story touched my heart in so many ways.  If you know someone with a family like this, take a moment to say a kind work and include them, you never know when they might need to reach out to you.

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