Welcome to my stop on the Differently Normal blog tour. Going into the book, I had no expectations given that this was my first experience with Tammy Robinson’s writing, but I was definitely blown away by the writing and the storytelling.
For Maddy, life is all about routine. It has to be, to keep her sister with autism happy and healthy. With just Maddy and her mother as Bee’s full-time carers, there’s no time in Maddy’s life for complications like friends, let alone a boyfriend. So when Bee joins a new Riding for the Disabled stable and they meet Albert, the last thing on Maddy’s mind is falling in love.
Some things, she’s about to learn, are outside of our control. Albert has resigned himself to always being a disappointment to his strict father. When he meets Maddy, he gets a glimpse of what being part of a family can be like, and of the tremendous sacrifices that people will make for the ones that they love.
DIFFERENTLY NORMAL is a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, because sometimes it takes letting someone else in to discover who you really are . . .
Thank you to Hachette for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I absolutely loved this novel. It was so real and honest, and I couldn’t help but connect with it emotionally. Differently Normal is written from the perspectives of our main characters Maddy and Albert. Maddy’s sister, Bee, has autism and Maddy finds herself spending her days working at a photo desk and taking care of Bee when her single mother is at work. Albert works at a stable by day and spends his nights avoiding his verbally abusive father. His immediate plan is to save up and move far away from his dad and equally abusive older brother. But when Maddy and Albert meet at the stable where Bee is taking riding lessons, the two must reevaluate their plans if they want to stay together.
More than anything, I loved the characters in this novel. I understood them so completely even though I’ve never had the same experiences as them. Tammy Robinson gave such great insight into their personalities, desires and fears that it was impossible not to fall in love with them. It was also impossible not to admire them for the sacrifices that they’ve made and what they’ve gone through. The side characters also had great depth and played their own parts in the story. I especially loved Albert’s mother, Wendy, who was so tired of her husband bullying them that she gradually started moving into the laundry. I also really liked Maddy’s work colleague, Kyle, who was flamboyant and funny. All in all, the characterisation was A+!
I loved the representation of autism in this novel and liked how prominent it was in the story. The other themes of family, friendship and dreams of the future were also really nicely executed and explored. I also really enjoyed the plot and liked that the novel was written from alternating dual perspectives. I enjoyed being able to read from both Maddy and Albert’s perspectives and further understand their thoughts and feelings. I liked the progression of time in the story and liked how the story skipped forward subtly without all the boring in-betweens. More importantly, the plot was interesting and I was engrossed in what would happen next. The climax of the book was intense and I loved the way the novel ended.
Overall, I highly enjoyed Differently Normal and loved the characterisation and plot of the novel. It’s probably one of the more enjoyable books that I’ve read in recent months.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tammy Robinson is writer from New Zealand. She has four books available for purchase on amazon and is currently at work on her fifth.
After years spent working her way round the world on cruise ships and at Club Med resorts (and yes, the rumours are all true) Tammy now lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty with her husband, their two beautiful girls, a scatty black Labrador and a grumpy black cat who occasionally requires a two week course of anti-anxiety medication to stop him from pulling his own fur out. Seriously.
When not being drooled/vomited/pooped on, Tammy manages to squeeze in some writing, assisted by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate. (Ok and the odd wine)