Absolutely Normal Chaos

( 188 )

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...

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Absolutely Normal Chaos

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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?

Thirteen-year-old Mary Lou grows up considerably during the summer while learning about romance, homesickness, death, and her cousin's search for his biological father.

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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: 2/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 72,800
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.56 (w) x 5.06 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech is the author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. Her other work includes the novels The Great Unexpected, The Unfinished Angel, Hate That Cat, The Castle Corona, Replay, Heartbeat, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Ruby Holler, Love That Dog, Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, and Pleasing the Ghost, as well as three picture books: A Fine, Fine School; Fishing in the Air; and Who's That Baby? Ms. Creech and her husband live in Maine.

Good To Know

In her interview with Barnes & Noble.com, Creech shared some fun facts about herself:

"One of my most interesting jobs was in graduate school, working with the Federal Theatre Project archives (a Library of Congress collection, then based at George Mason University). I catalogued original illustrations for set and costume designs, some by Orson Welles. It was fascinating work!"

"I once fell 20 feet from a tree, was knocked unconscious, and when I picked myself up and straggled home, my parents thought I was making it up. However, when my brother and I fabricated a story about an encounter with a bear, they believed that! So maybe I learned very early on that fiction was more interesting to listeners!"

"As readers can probably tell from my books, I love the outdoors. I love to hike, kayak, and swim. I also love to read (which is probably not a surprise) and I love the theater and art museums. I especially love all the instruments of art: inks, pens, paintbrushes, watercolors and oils, fine papers and canvases, and although I love to mess around with these tools and objects, I have minimal artistic skills."

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    1. Hometown:
      Pennington, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 29, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cleveland, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Hiram College, 1967; M.A., George Mason University, 1978

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 188 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(133)

4 Star

(34)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 188 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Absolutely Normal Chaos

    Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech is a great book for girls who enjoy realistic fiction. The book is written in journal form, because throughout the story, you are reading Mary Lou Finney's summer journal. She starts out thinking that her summer won't be very exiting, but when her cousin Carl Ray comes in to town, things change. What adventures will Mary Lou and Carl Ray have together? read Absolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!

    This book is amazing!!!!!! It delivers everything a reader of any age could want. If i could choose one book to have every teenage girl in the world read, this would be it. BUY IT NOWWWW!!!!!!!!!!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2011

    This book is fanastic you would be a foul not to read this

    Its amazing and the ending is very touching

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 4, 2011

    Omg

    I love this book. You should totally read it.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2006

    My Review

    I couldn't believe how this book turned out in the end. There are many things I thought would happen and they didn't but were replaced with even better things. I chose this book by reading the back and the part that caught my eye was '.....I did my DIARY ASSIGNMENT, the problem is, I don't want you to read it'. I know that when something like that is written, the story must be good. I enjoyed the parts of this book and it almost made me cry to find out the truth of Carl Ray.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 16, 2009

    (:

    I thought this book was going to be boring when my reading teacher recommended it.
    But I was so wrong.
    It was very well written.
    And not to mention knee-slappin' funny. (:

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    Really funny

    This book is hilarious. I loved it. Whoever is reading it currently, i encourage you go right on; it gets better. Whoever is reading this review and hasnt read it, READ IT. It captures your attention; it's entertaining, romantic, interesting and a dash of sadness all mixed together!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Best BOOK EVER

    THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS THAT I HAVE EVER READ. ITS LIKE BEING IN MARY LOU SHOES. I ABSOLUTELY RECOMMEDN THIS. Had to read this for school it was amazing!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2011

    good

    its very good

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    July, 2013

    Amazing book. Recomended for ages nine and up. Just one thing... this girl is thirteen, but she acts and narrates like an eleven-year-old. But great book, by the way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2012

    Best book ever!!!!!!

    I read alot of Sharon Creech's books and they all have a connection! But this one is AWESOME!!! I recommend this book. Hope you read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    Not as Good as I'd Hoped

    When I started this book, I thought it was going to be really good. And it was, at first, but then it got kind of boring, and the main character kept going on and on about her bloody boyfriend, and it was kind of stupid.

    I take that back. It was really stupid.

    And I also thought she said "God" too much, which really bothered me (gosh would have been better), and it mentioned sex a couple times, which I thought was a little unneccessary.

    The only reason I actually gave this book any stars was because of the Finney family, whom I absolutely loved. That was pretty much the only good thing. Oh, and the ending with Carl Ray and Mr. Furtz and everything. But I also thought that the part with the car wreck was a little fast and not detailed enough.

    Reviewed by: Lauren Kellie

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Great

    One of the many things I loved about this book is how girls can relate to it so easily. I think people everywhere should read this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    Awesome

    I loved this book! First i recomend reading walk two moons because this is all about the summer of Mary Lou Finney, the main character. She is also one of the friendds of the main character un walk two moons. Second i recomend reading this because its intruiging to most girls, and mayb even some guys( Most likely girls though). Hope you read this and like it!!!!! BUY IT NOW!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    I would really recomend this book!!!!!

    The book is about a girl named Mary Lou. She is a sweet girl with 1 sister and 3 brothers. She has to keep a journal about what she did in the summer. She writes in about 5 or 6 of them. The book is funny,sad,scary, and romantic. I would really recomend this book to anybody! To get to get to the funny,sad,scary,and romantic parts you have to read the whole intire book! I really hope you buy this book and read it and enjoy it!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Cool book so far

    I love it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2011

    DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Terrible.

    1 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2011

    Really good

    Read walk two moons and you'll see why they are so similar.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    Absolutely Normal Chaos

    Sharon Creech's book " Absolutely Normal Chaos" has a riveting plot. The Finnley family has 5 children, plus a strange visiting cousin. This cousin named Carl Ray is a mysterious teenager who is here for one reason, but he tells nobody at first. He always keeps to himself and almost never talks except when Mary Lou comes along and is welcoming. Mary Lou is one of the 5 children of the Finnley family. She is the narrator of the story and shares her feelings in the book. How will young Mary Lou Finnley and Carl Ray become friends and trust one another. And what is the true reason why this boy Carl Ray is at the Finnley's home?
    The mysterious, fascinating, and strange situations will come together once Carl Ray unravels why he came to "get a job." These all weird problems take place in a little town, where a family is trying their true feelings towards Carl Ray. Mary Lou's diary contains her real feelings towards her backstabbing friend Beth Ann, her boyfriend cute Alex Cheevey, and her confusing cousin Carl Ray. This is a relaxing novel to read if you like humorous plots and interesting characters. Sharon Creech is very good at using adjectives to describe her well thought out characters. She also did a great job at helping readers understand confusing and messy plot. Although I didn't like the setting nor understood it the amazing plot and characters made up for it.
    "Absolutely Normal Chaos" is a book about relationships, conflict, and trying to unravel Carl Ray's life. I think that Sharon Creech's books are the appropriate style and level for middle school readers. I enjoyed reading this book throughout the conflict resolutions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2008

    LUVvVvdd IT!

    I'm not really into the whole 'Read this book because the teacher assigned it' thing, but this was one of the better books that I enjoyed reading. It was assigned along with a book of graphic organizers that made me want to crawl under a rock from the start. After I started reading it, I got really into it because I've been some of the places, I've had some of the same expericences, and I've wrote many of the same things in my journal i kept over last summer. I would recommend this book to the teenage group because we all are going through a lot of this stuff and you can get ideas on how to deal with these situations. Have fune sinking you brain into this book!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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