Just a Normal Tuesday - Kim Turrisi

It's just a normal Tuesday for sixteen-year-old Kai, until suddenly it's anything but. She's received a letter from her beloved older sister, Jen, a letter that begins, My very bestest sister, Kai, if you are reading this, I am already gone. From that moment on, Kai's life will never be the same, as she is forced to deal with the shock and horror of losing Jen to suicide.

Consumed with grief, Kai looks for answers, lashes out at people who love her and eventually turns to excessive drinking and drugs, all with disastrous results and no relief from her suffering. Struggling with their own sorrow, Kai's parents realize she needs more help than they can give, and they enroll her in the Tree House, a "grief camp" for children. Though reluctant to go, once she's there, Kai finally finds others who truly understand her loss. No longer alone, she's able to begin dealing with her pain. And to see light at the end of the dark tunnel.

Turrisi's very personal and heart-wrenching novel is a part of the first round of releases from the new YA imprint of Kids Can Press, KCP Loft. I am happy to see that such quality work is coming from this new imprint.

While the novel itself is often bleak and some may say it borders on sensationalistic in terms of Kai's ways of dealing with her sister's suicide, it is my feeling that Turrisi never crosses the border into melodrama. I think the ways that Kai deals with her grief are very realistic, even while they are tragic and dangerous. And the grief camp that her parents send her to is actually really cathartic, not just for the characters, but I feel also for some readers. I should say that the rawness of the narrative and the bluntness of some of the discussion of death and suicide could be triggering to readers who have suffered the loss of their own loved ones, so beware of that if you are suggesting the novel for young readers.

While I do often find myself rolling my eyes at romances in unlikely situations, the relationship between Kai and Graham is actually really sweet and also a very real reaction to trauma (finding deeper connections with others who have had a similar experience). I also understand that the point of the novel was the examine Kai's own self-discovery and reconciliation with her sister's decision to kill herself, but I was still a bit sad that her friends, Em and TJ, only show up in the form of text messages after the first third of the book (spoiler?)

I hope this book will find its way into the right hands as I think it's a really well written text that can be useful, informative, and engrossing.



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