An inspiring, bittersweet love story about making every day count.
Bryce remembers it like it was yesterday. The scent of chlorine. The blinding crack and flash of pain. Blood in the water.
When she wakes up in the hospital, all Bryce can think of is her disastrous Olympic diving trial. But everything is different now. Bryce still feels seventeen, so how can her little sister be seventeen, too? Life went on without her while Bryce lay in a coma for five years. Her best friend and boyfriend have just graduated from college. Her parents barely speak. And everything she once dreamed of doing—winning a gold medal, traveling the world, falling in love—seems beyond her reach.
But Bryce has changed too, in seemingly impossible ways. She knows things she shouldn’t. Things that happened while she was asleep. Things that haven’t even happened yet. During one luminous summer, as she comes to understand that her dreams have changed forever, Bryce learns to see life for what it truly is: extraordinary.
You can tell when you’re about to read an emotionally-packed novel and when you’re about to read something light and fluffy–perfect for summer afternoons by the pool. You can tell when the story you are about to delve into is something you can finish in one sitting and when the story is something so beautiful it will leave you speechless, unable to continue on with an end that will probably change your life.
Anything But Ordinary truly lives up to its name–it’s shockingly touching and heartbreaking, and it sheds some light on the experience of a girl who has nothing left to lose because even if she still seemingly has everything, she is but a shell of herself. She is a child inside a woman, and her whole life moved on without her. For five years, Bryce was in a coma, and the fact that she even woke up or showed signs of movement and life was a huge miracle. However, she finds that five years is enough to drastically change her perfect life from when she was seventeen. She used to be an Olympic-hopeful star swimmer with tons of gold medals, a wonderful family, a loyal best friend, and a faithful boyfriend–her life was more than perfect. But now?
Her five years of non-physical movement renders her almost incapable of using her fully-functioning limbs to walk properly, much less swim. Her younger sister, Sydney, who used to be a sweet twelve-year old, is now a troublemaking teen who feels unloved by her family because of the constant attention Bryce has been getting from the day she was born. And what of her best friend Gabby, and her boyfriend Greg? Moving on seemed pretty easy for them, since they are engaged to be married. Despite these, Bryce does everything for her life to go back to normal. But as much as she wants everything to be what they were five years ago, time changes people, and certain circumstances lead her to meet Carter, who quickly becomes a friend and a potential love interest. Young love blooms between the two of them as Bryce tries to live out the five missing years in the time she has now–practicing, pushing herself, rekindling relationships, and grudgingly accepting the fact that the love of her life is betrothed to her best friend.
Actually, I liked Bryce a lot. She turned out to be such a complex character–extremely different from the whiny, petty, and annoying protagonist I
had in mind when I pictured out the story in my head. There are these little things about her that get me so emotionally attached to who she is and what she does to live out her life to the fullest. Instead of crying and instead of whining about how unfair her life is, (which is probably what some would do) she makes the most out of what she has and strives to improve herself in order to retain a sense of normalcy in her life. Besides this, she doesn’t forget to look out for her family and friends instead of leaving them to look out for her, and she always holds their best interests at heart. Selfless even to the point of her own unhappiness. Sure, there may be some things that made her slip from that characteristic, but she never failed to regain her balance and come out a better person than before.
A huge factor in the rating I gave was also the writing of the author. Her portrayal of heartbreak, sadness, happiness, and inner turmoil hit my emotions spot-on, making sure I never flipped a page without feeling something. She managed to fit so many essential things in the plot in a mere three hundred and thirty-six pages, which made some scenes perfectly-paced, and others savoringly-slow to draw out the emotions of a reader.
The ending, I thought, was extremely unexpected, and despite my feelings about it, it was so heartbreakingly beautiful and bittersweet because of its perfect simplicity. Lara Avery was able to capture that exact moment that left the book hanging, but also closed, in a sense.
Overall, Anything But Ordinary is an extraordinary book that pulls at your heartstrings and leaves you with a simple but powerful parting message about life, beauty, and happiness. I strongly recommend those who enjoy emotional contemporaries to pick up this book and revel in Bryce’s story because as soon as you turn that last page, it will become a part of your heart for the rest of your life.