Publication Date: May 7, 2017
Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi is a story about a girl named Kai. She comes home from school to find a note from her sister, Jen. In the note, she was horrified to find that it was a suicide note. She rushed over to see her worst thoughts confirmed – her sister was dead, of her own accord. The book revolves around Kai’s life after Jen died – how she coped with the grief, her experiences at a grief camp which her parents sent her to.
This story deals with a very unique theme – grief. And it’s one that several Young Adult books gloss over. It discusses how everyone copes with loss differently and people grieve in their own time. Kai’s emotions and feelings are described in a way that is very raw and genuine so her character felt very real.
The idea of a grief camp was a very unique one – I’ve never heard of something like it, and from reading about Kai’s sessions and group counselling with others her age who really understood what she was going through, it sounds like something that can actually help a lot of people. Everyone at the camp had something in common – losing someone they love. So they already had something to bond over and people to talk to about how they feel, people who would be much more empathetic.
The book starts off quite slow and drags on for a while about Kai’s sister, Jen’s funeral procedures and other formalities after her death. While those scenes were important, and highlighted how suicide shocks your loved ones, I felt like they went on about it for too long. Nothing significant happens in the first 80 pages or so.
I really liked whenever Kai reminisced about her sister, those scenes were my favourite as they were very heartfelt and emotional. I also enjoyed her interactions with the rest of her group at grief camp. I really liked reading about everyone else’s stories too and watching them absorb what happened to them and then try to accept the situation and move on from it.
The weakest point of the story is the characterization of Kai – apart from the fact that she lost her sister, there is nothing about her personality that comes out in the book. I feel no emotional attachment to her at all. Some of her peers at grief camp seem far more interesting than her. I also had issues with the pacing of the story – the start drags on, and the camp part of the story is quite rushed. Another thing which is more about my personal preference is the love plot – it was so unnecessary. All Young Adult books do not have to have romance in it, and that part of this story annoyed me a little bit.
Overall, this is a unique read, dealing with themes that most YA books steer clear from, but the execution has some issues. I recommend you pick it up if you have dealt with or are dealing with some kind of loss and want someone to understand.