Miles from Ordinary

Miles from Ordinary

by Carol Lynch Williams

Paperback(First Edition)

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"Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea what [Williams] has done for early teen readers…" —Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Close to Baby

Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....

"No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now, with Miles from Ordinary, this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them.

Miles from Ordinary was recently named to The American Libray Associations 2012 list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. The Chosen One was named one of 2012's Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults by the ALA.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250002600
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/13/2012
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Carol Lynch Williams is the author of young adult novels including The Chosen One, which was named one of 2010 ALA's "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers" and "Best Books for Young Adult Readers." It also won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters awards for the best young adult fiction of the year, as well as numerous other honors. Williams was the winner of the 2009 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. She grew up in Florida and now lives in Utah.

Read an Excerpt



There are mice.

Lots of mice. Running all over my room. Letting out crying sounds that grate on my ears. They crawl on my feet. My legs. I feel them on my arms. Soft things with toenails like blunt needles.

“Momma?” I say. She’s dressed in a long nightgown. Her fingernails are sharp like the tops of just-opened cans. “We gotta get rid of the mice. We gotta call an exterminator.” I hand her an old-fashioned phone.

“You’re right, Lacey,” Momma says. But instead, she cuts at her face with her nails. Deep wounds open up, split wide, and blood, dark blood like ink, makes paths down her face to the floor. She cries.

“Stop that,” I say. “Stop it now.”

But Momma doesn’t listen. Just cuts and cries.

*   *   *

I AWOKE with a start, my heart thudding in my neck. My whole body felt like I’d been dunked in an ice bath.

“Only a dream,” I said to myself, then glanced at the clock: 3:46 A.M. I started to close my eyes. The wind nudged at the house. I could smell the magnolia tree.

Something moved in the corner.

“Hello?” I said, clutching my sheet to my chest. “Someone here?”

There was no answer.

The floor creaked near the closet.

“Hello?” I wanted to sit up in bed, but I couldn’t quite move.

“Granddaddy?” My voice came out small. It felt like all the hair on my head was trying to get away from me.


Fear flashed a white streak behind my eyes. I gave a jump. “Granddaddy?”


Momma! It was Momma! Crying out a second time from her room. Her voice sad and scared and weepy. So the crying part of my dream was real. And maybe there was a mouse near the closet. A mouse coming from my dreams, alive and real? That was ridiculous. Of course that couldn’t be.

“Are you okay?” I called to Momma. I kept my eyes toward the closet. Straining to see. Just darkness. No movement now.

The night breeze pushed into my room. The smell of the ocean. So peaceful. No more sounds from the closet. Good. Good. I took in a breath to push my fear away.

“Granddaddy,” I said, hoping he wasn’t close enough to hear me, “this is my room.” A girl should at least have privacy in her bedroom. My heartbeat slowed.

“Lacey? I need you.”


Man, was I tired. My eyes burned. But I threw my feet over the side of the bed. As soon as I touched the cool wood of the floor, fear surged in behind me. Run! I hurried toward my mother’s room. It was like something chased me down the hall though I knew … Did I?… nothing was there.

A few more steps Go, go! and I made it. “What is it, Momma?” I leaned against the doorjamb. Her nightlight showed the pattern of flowers on the carpet.

“I’m scared.” Her voice was shaky. Did she have a nightmare, too? “Granddaddy keeps bothering me. Has he been coming into your room? I’ve told him not to. To let you sleep because of tomorrow.” Momma’s voice wasn’t even as loud as a whisper. I had to walk to the side of her bed to hear. I could see her slender form under the blankets. “And I told him I have to sleep too, because of you-know-what.”

I nodded but Momma didn’t look my way. Just gripped the sheet and blanket in her fingers and spoke like maybe I was glued to the ceiling.

“But he won’t let me alone,” Momma said. She glanced in my direction, then back again. “If you get in bed with me, Lacey, I think he’ll stay outta here for a while.”

Had he been to my room? For a moment I felt something behind me. Like someone watched. The feeling was muddy, heavy. Almost on my shoulder. Almost pushing me toward Momma. I refused to look back. Not that I could have seen much of anything. The darkness was fat, almost difficult, in the hall.

“Will you sleep here?”

“All right, Momma.” Forcing myself not to hurry, Quick, move it!, I took my time. Granddaddy might be the boss of this house, but I wasn’t going to let him know he scared me, too. I climbed in next to my mother and snuggled close. “Turn on your side and I’ll scrooch up to your back.”

“Okay, Lacey. Okay.”

Momma was so thin I could feel her ribs. Could have counted them. I could smell her sweat, too. “You go on to sleep,” I said. “If Granddaddy comes back in, I’ll send him out.”

Don’t let him come in here. And then, You know he won’t. And another, He could.

“Thank you, baby,” Momma said. “You watch for him awhile. But wake me if he tries anything.”

I yawned big. “I will.” Here I was, all of fourteen years old, and I was crawling into bed with my momma.

You big scaredy cat, I thought. Don’t let him come in here. You know he won’t. He can’t. Not possible.

With Momma so near, my fears faded some. My heart slowed. And at last I was asleep.


Copyright © 2011 by Carol Lynch Williams

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