Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 12
Tamar Robinson knows a lot about loss—more than any teenager should. Her younger sisters are dead, her parents are adrift in a sea of grief, and now Tamar is losing her hair. Nevertheless, she navigates her rocky life as best she can, not always with grace, but with her own brand of twisted humor. She joins the chess club with her friend Roy, earns a part in the school production of The Wizard of Oz, buys an awesome wig, lands a crappy job, gets invited to the prom (by three different guys!) and helps her parents re-enter the land of the living. What Tamar lacks in tact (and hair), she makes up for in sheer tenacity.
About the author
Ashley Little studied creative writing at the University of Victoria. Her book Anatomy of a Girl Gang was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2013. Her debut novel PRICK: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist (Tightrope Books) was shortlisted for a ReLit Award and has been optioned for a film, for which she is writing the screenplay. She is also the author of the YA novel The New Normal (Orca Book Publishers). Ashley lives in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia.
- Winner, Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize nominee
- Commended, OLA Best Bets
"Tamar's wisecracking first-person voice adeptly conveys the complexity and grit of her emotional life as she learns to stand up for herself. Readers...will be rewarded by the destination."
"This novel is a joy to read from start to finish. Tamar is complex, never boring and remains a charismatic and appealing character at her best and her worst...The New Normal is a powerful story about accepting yourself and your circumstances...[and] keeps just the right balance between tragedy and comedy. Highly Recommended."
"One cannot help but root for [Tamar] to survive the challenges in her life...Readers remain connected to this feisty, capable teen and just want for her to be happy...Through sheer tenacity and a love of life, she saves herself and, in the process, her family. A quick read that delivers a happy ending."
School Library Journal
"The writing is clean and conversational; the book reads like a diary, as we listen to Tamar confessing her story in first person...Ultimately, I ask myself whether this book is one I'd pass on to my daughter, and there's no doubt I would. Tamar shows incredible resilience, and that's the one quality I think our kids need today as they enter the sometimes scary and always challenging world of high school."
The Coastal Spectator
"Little...prevents Tamar's situation from feeling melodramatic, always keeping her story grounded. Readers will sense that realism from the very first page...Tamar is so relatable and genuine that readers will be invested in her attempts to surmount the challenges that pile up."
"This book had a really well-written, realistic plot. The author did a good job describing the things in Tamar's world. I really found myself able to visualize Tamar, her house, and everything else around her. I think it was a heartwarming story and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes reading realistic fiction. "
Teen Reviewer, YALSA Teens' Top Ten Galley Review
"Readers will find [Tamar's] courageous yet realistic attitude admirable. She shows readers how to cope with whatever life throws your way. The novel will definitely appeal to teenage girls...Little manages to capture the cruelty of high school life, as well as the compassion of teenage existence."
"Tamar Robinson's heartfelt story is relayed via first-person narration marked by an endearing balance of sarcasm and self-awareness...She is a lovable everygirl readers will want to be friends with. In addition to creating an endearing, believably conflicted protagonist whom it is impossible not to cheer for, Little deftly doles out levity and hardship at just the right times. The novel is mired neither in endless tragedy nor flippant dark humour; it presents a realistic portrayal of a grieving teenage girl...With equal parts humour and humility, Little's novel reads like an Alberta-set love child of Susan Juby and Sarah Dessen, and that's not a bad thing at all."
Quill & Quire