Absolutely Normal Chaos

Absolutely Normal Chaos

4.5 189
by Sharon Creech
     
 

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Dear Mr. Birkway,
Here it is: my summer journal.
As you can see,
I got a little carried away.
The problem is this, though.
I don't want you to read it.

Remember Mary Lou Finney from Walk Two Moons?Here's her complete, secret journal!

Mary Lou Finney is less than excited about her assignment to keep a journal over the summer.

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Overview

Dear Mr. Birkway,
Here it is: my summer journal.
As you can see,
I got a little carried away.
The problem is this, though.
I don't want you to read it.

Remember Mary Lou Finney from Walk Two Moons?Here's her complete, secret journal!

Mary Lou Finney is less than excited about her assignment to keep a journal over the summer. Boring! Then cousin Carl Ray comes to stay with her family, and what starts out as the dull dog days of summer quickly turns into the wildest roller-coaster ride of all time.

How was Mary Lou supposed to know what would happen with Carl Ray and the ring? Or with her boy-crazy best friend Beth Ann? Or with (sigh) the permanently pink Alex Cheevey? Suddenly a boring school project becomes a record of the most exciting, incredible, unbelievable summer of Mary Lou's life.

But what if her teacher actually does read her journal?

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Once again in few words Ruth Krauss reveals theinnermost feelings of little children. Maurice Sendak's pictures show the happiness and activity of the little boy as, in his pretend world, he accomplishes all his big ideas.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Written in the form of a journal by a slightly precocious thirteen year old, Mary Lou, this is the story of a summer and of the protagonist's growth out of childhood. Wacky cousin Carl Ray comes to visit, but is he any wackier than Mary Lou's own family? And what's the mystery surrounding this inheritance that Carl Ray suddenly receives? The journal is peppered with delightful bits of reflection on The Odyssey (Mary Lou's summer required reading), as well as asides such as "pretend this is a play," or "I am getting tired of writing 'I said' and 'he said.' " It all makes for snappy reading, and Mary Lou's family and friends are a likeable cast of characters.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Mary Lou Finney, 13, is keeping a summer journal for her English class. Letting it all hang out, she describes her noisy, uninhibited but loving family, her first romance, and her nerdy cousin, Carl Ray, who changes the path of her summer. Her efforts to make sense of Homer's Odyssey add depth and delight to the story, especially when she realizes that the epic poem is an odyssey for life. She sees parallels in her own experiences that adds to the comic elements in this original coming of age story. The results are in turn funny, wise, serious, and irreverent. This story is a winner for middle schoolers who may even be motivated to read Homer's classic poem.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9Creech's newest story is told as a summer journal begrudgingly started as an English assignment. Mary Lou, 13, wonders if kisses with boys really taste like chicken; if her best friend will ever shut up about her new boyfriend; and how her visiting cousin, Carl Ray, can be such a silent clod, especially when someone has anonymously given him $5000. Later, when he is in a coma following a car accident, she rereads her journal and wonders how she could have been so unseeing. Mary Lou is a typical teen whose acquaintance with the sadder parts of life is cushioned by a warm and energetic family. Her entertaining musings on Homer, Shakespeare, and Robert Frost are drawn in nifty parallels to what is happening in her own life. When forbidden by her mother to say ``God,'' ``stupid,'' and ``stuff,'' she makes a trek to the thesaurus to create some innovative interjections. Creech's dialogue is right on target. Her characterization is nicely done also. By comparison, this book is differently voiced than Walk Two Moons (HarperCollins, 1994), lacks that book's masterful imagery, and is more superficial in theme; but appropriately so. Creech has remained true to Mary Lou, who is a different narrator, and one who will win many fans of her own. Those in search of a light, humorous read will find it; those in search of something a little deeper will also be rewarded.Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780064406321
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/28/1997
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
62,996
Product dimensions:
7.56(w) x 5.06(h) x 0.55(d)
Lexile:
900L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Absolutely Normal Chaos MSRChapter One

Dear Mr Birkway,

Here it is: my summer journal. As you can see, got a little carried away.

The problem is this, though. I don't want you to read it.

I really mean it. I just wanted you to know I did it.I didn't want you to think I was one of those kids who says, "Oh yeah, I did it, but I lost it/mydog ate it/my little brother dropped it in the toilet.

But please Pleeeassse Don't Read It! How was I to know all this stuff was going to happen this summer? How was I to know Carl Ray would come to town and turn everything into an odyssey? And how was I to know about Alex...? Sigh.

Please Don't Read It. I mean it.

Sincerely,
Mary Lou Finney

Tuesday, June 12

I wish someone would tell me exactly what a journal is. When I asked my mother, she said, "Well, it's like a diary only different." That helps. She was going to explain more, but. Mrs. Furtz (the lady who just moved in across the street) called to say, that my brother Dennis was throwing eggs at her house, and my mother went berserk so she didn't finish telling me. How am I supposed to write a journal if I don't even know what one is?

I wouldn'tbe doing this anyway, except that Mrs. Zollar asked me to. She's an English teacher. She asked us to keep a journal this summer and bring it in (in September) to our new English teacher.

So, new English teacher, I guess I better say who I am. My name is Mary Lou Finney. I live at 4059 Buxton Road in Easton, Ohio. I have a normally strange family. Here's our cast of characters,so to speak:

Sam Finney (whose age I am not allowed to tell you) is the father. He is a pretty regular father. Sometimes he likes us and sometimes we drive him crazy. When we are driving him crazy, he usually goes out in the garden and pulls some weeds. When he is at work, he is a geologist and spends his days drawing maps.

Sally Finney (whose age I am also not allowed to tell you or anyone else) is the mother. She also is a pretty regular mother. Sometimes she drools all over us and sometimes she asks my father if there isn't something he can do about us. When we are driving her crazy, she usually cries a little. When she is at work, she is an oral historian and spends her days tape-recording stories that elderly people tell her. I think that by the time she gets home to us, she is a little tired of hearing people talk.

Maggie Finney (seventeen years old) is the oldest daughter. She's my sister. She is your basic boy-crazy, fingernail-painting, mopey ole sister with whom I have the misfortune of sharing a room. She does not like me to touch her things.

Mary Lou Finney (thirteen years old) is the next oldest. That's me. I don't know what I am. I am waiting to find out.

Dennis Finney (twelve years old) is the kind of brother who will climb a tree with you one minute and tell on you the next. He gets into a fair amount of trouble (such as getting caught throwing eggs at Mrs. Furtz's house, breaking windows with apples, etc.), but he is okay other than that.

Doug Finney (better known as Dougie) (eight years old) gets lost in the middle of everyone else. He's skinny as anything and follows everybody else around. He's quiet and more serious than the rest of us, so nobody minds him tagging along, but he calls himself the "poor little slob."

Tommy Finney (four years old) is the spoiled-baby type kid. We think he's cute as anything, and so he gets away with murder. He's the messiest eater you've ever seen.

This journal is not as hard as I thought. I just hope I am doing it right. It would be terrible to do it all summer and then take it in and have someone look at it and say, "Oh, but this isn't a journal, dear."

I tried to ask Mrs. Zollar a million questions about the journal when she gave it to us, but Alex Cheevey said, "Geez. We don't want to know too much about it. Then we'll have to do it right. Can't you ever keep quiet?"

And now I will reflect on that. I used to think Alex Cheevey was cute, because his skin is always a little pink, like he's just been running a race, and his hair is always clean and shiny, and once we had to do an oral report together and even though I did most of the work, he patted me on the back when we were done, as if he realized what a good job I did, and he is certainly the best player on the basketball team and so graceful when he runs and dribbles the ball. But now, as I reflect on it, I see he is really a jerk.

Absolutely Normal Chaos MSR. Copyright © by Sharon Creech. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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