Series: Real Life #1
Author: Nancy Rue
Published Date: May 8th 2010
Genre: Christian, YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
While family dinners and vacations to touristy destinations are ordinary events for her “normal” friends, fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher’s normal life means dealing with her ADHD and her mother’s bipolar disorder.
So why is Jessie shocked when the unexpected happens? Now her “normal” includes living in Florida with the father she always thought was dead and learning the secrets of sushi from a man who teaches by tormenting her. Life isn’t any saner with her dad, but a cute guy and a mysterious book might just be the crazy Jessie needs.
"You always have a choice between doing the thing that's going to help you or doing the same thing you've been doing that makes you miserable."
Last summer I read Boyfriends, Burritos & An Ocean Of Trouble which was the second book in the real life companion novel series. That one dealt with an abusive relationship, and an overbearing mother. While this book deals with ADHD, Bipolar, and a parent who is suddenly around for the first time.
We have Jess who is a 16-year-old who is dealing with a mother who has in-bed phases and out of bed phases, she also has ADHD that while is medicated is not the right medicine. Add on the fact that her mom goes back and forth between super controlling to absent for days on in, it's a very complicated environment for Jess.
One day though her bio father Lou calls and asks to meet her. This leads to her mom taking drastic measures and Jess suddenly being forced to go with Lou.
Once she is with Lou things really get interesting in my opinion, not only does he truly care about her, but he wants to make her feel comfortable in her new environment and to have the ability to thrive in it and be the person she can be when her "hamster wheel"(that's what she calls her ADHD brain) isn't going 100mph all the time.
"Life isn't an endurance test. Why make it any harder than it already is? If there's something that can help take the edge off all this frustration, why not use it?"Lou gives her the options and stability she needs and kind of wants after she gets used to the idea. She even is able to start a job working at a Sushi place (this is where she really starts changing and thriving) and Bonsai who is the owner/chef and Rose the everything else woman. We also have Rocky who is a guy that works for Lou and want to be Jess's friend and shows her the town she is now living in. (this was a really nice friendship to see and how it changed was in a mostly realistic way to.)
"No I don't have to pull attitude with him. He doesn't put me down every single chance he gets. He doesn't treat me like a moron. He doesn't ignore me for weeks and then get up and tr to run my life. That's why I don't pull attitude with him. And that's why this is my home now. "
Overall I really liked this book and this series so far. Each book can be read on its own as the only that is consistent is the RL book. I don't really know much about ADHD or Bipolar, so I don't know how well represented they both are in this book. I just thought it was nice to see it dealt with in a book, and for the character to just not suddenly get better all on her own with no help from anyone.
This is a mostly realistic story, besides the RL book portions where the book is specifically 'talking' to Jess and helps her deal with things. Now as a teenager I would have loved the idea of this and I still think it's a pretty cool one today. I can see how it would make some people uncomfortable though and make them not want to read the book. For the first 75% religion is only slightly mentioned, but the last 25% it gets mentioned a lot more.
I am hoping to read the other two companion novels in July, because I am interested to see what topics get addressed in them.