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Absolutely Normal Chaos

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  7,110 Ratings  ·  514 Reviews
Mary Lou Finney is less than excited about her assignment to keep a journal over the summer. Boring! Then cousin Carl Ray comes to stay with her family, and what starts out as the dull dog days of summer quickly turns into the wildest roller coaster ride of all time.

How was Mary Lou suppose to know what would happen with Carl Ray and the ring? Or with her boy-crazy best fr
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins (first published October 30th 1990)
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Apr 15, 2008 Sri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Oh, Alpha Omega! Oh, King of Kings! I enjoyed reading this book :D!
It's written as a journal of a 13 years old girl. The journal was supposed to be an assignment for her summer vacation, turn out that the girl--Mary Lou Finney--was really into writing in her journal. She filled up six little blue books. She wrote about her family, her weird cousin--Carl Ray--, her best friend, her first boy friend, and about Homer's Odyssey--the book she picked out from her summer reading list--.
Girls, you shou
I was in a book store and the only books I was seeing were historical fiction books; and personally, I hate historical fiction. Then I saw this book on the shelf and Absolutely fell in love!
Book Review Team
Jan 31, 2008 Book Review Team rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: realistic
I am reading a book called Absolutely Normal Chaos. This book is about a girl named Mary Lou Finney. She tells us about her summer (she is telling her journal this) sometimes she is also living the events she talks about. She has a friend named Beth Ann who is using her Mary Lou's cousin (Carl Ray) to make Beth Ann's boyfriend jealous and to make him get back together with her. Mary Lou is also dating one of the cutest guys in her class, Alex. Mary Lou's brothers and older sister are very annoyi ...more
Jun 14, 2016 Abby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread this book for the third time. It's definitely my favorite middle-grade novel of all time.

The summer and journaling aspects of it really inspired me to make the most out of this summer and keep a journal!

The characters are all great, and I admit I did laugh out loud a couple times. Even though the twists weren't really twists for me, I loved it. It just made me a bit nostalgic for simpler times of childhood!

This is a must-read for people of all ages!
Tara Calaby
Absolutely Normal Chaos is a lightly-styled novel, with a deeper message about family and belonging. Its protagonist, Mary Lou, has a strong voice, which is emphasised by the narrative being presented in the form of a journal. Her perspective is pleasantly flawed, and the reader views the other characters through her eyes. This is most obvious in the case of Carl Ray, who is represented in an ever-changing manner throughout the book.

Sharon Creech has a capable writing style and Absolutely Normal
Sep 08, 2009 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This companion book to "Walk Two Moons" follows one of the minor characters from that book, Mary Lou Finney, as she navigates the pitfalls of family, friends, and boyfriends during the summer between seventh and eighth grade. Mary Lou's cousin, Carl Ray, comes to live with her family, adding one more person to feed and clean up after. Her best friend, Beth Ann, starts dating an older boy, becoming distant and secretive. And a popular boy from the more affluent side of town, Alex Cheevy, starts t ...more
This was a pretty believable story of a thirteen-year-old girl named Mary Lou who is growing up in a small suburb. She lives in a family of five, and is constantly busy. Her English teacher assigns the kids a journal to write in over the summer, and to her surprise not only does she fill it up, but she buys six more, and fills them all the way up too. Mary Lou starts out as being pretty easy to understand, but quickly her life begins to turn itself upside down as her cousin comes looking for a j ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Jeanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 10, 2009 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title pretty much says it all.

Mary Lou Finney, a character seen in "Walk Two Moons," narrates this book completely through her summer journal, and ends up having more fun with the project than she ever expected. And a crazier summer than she ever expected.

Between a bunch of rambunctious siblings, having to read "The Odyssey" (which Mary Lou questions throughout in hilarious fashion) over summer, a blossoming crush on her neighbor Alex, and her very odd cousin Carl Ray staying with them, Mary
A totally cute book written as a diary of a teenager in a crazy family. Now I need to read Walk Two Moons.
Jun 05, 2009 Donovan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 11, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids
Wonderful middle school book. Creech has a genius for kids stories. My 13 year old daughter read this book out loud to me and I enjoyed so much hearing it in her voice.
Jun 09, 2008 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, while having some funny parts, teaches 2 major lessons, don't judge a book by it's cover, and, you never realize what you have until it's gone.
Ashley Jacobson
I guess no other Creech book can stand next to Walk Two Moons! I skimmed through most of this, just to see if it got more interesting. Sadly, no. It is just a book for fans and a money maker- Creech obviously hoped fans would want more of the journal. Sadly, it's not worth the time. I will allow my kids to read it if they are interested, but there isn't much value in the book.
Diane W.
Dec 16, 2016 Diane W. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Lou Finney has the summer of her life, though it is filled with the typical angst that is impossible to avoid in junior high. Her hick cousin Carl Ray comes suddenly to visit their family in Easton for an undetermined amount of time. He takes forever to talk, and seems to act unmotivated.

Loved it! Only because I kept a similar journal then.
Jessika Santulli
This was one of my favorite books in the fifth grade. I loved it so much that I bought it and read it again, after our class finished it in reading groups.
Leona Petrovic
May 03, 2017 Leona Petrovic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so fun! It is a lighthearted read about Mary Lou, a teen, who keeps a diary over the summer. It started out as a school project but she finds she actually enjoys doing it.
Humourous to read, I loved this book.
Megan Salentine
Mar 09, 2017 Megan Salentine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved how it described her life!!! Such a great book!
Oct 25, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching-books
I wold suggest this book for an older student to read on their own. The content is an interesting adventure based on a character from one of Creech's other books,"Walk Two Moons." It is a great continuation or introduction into Creech's story telling. This book is great for a student who has a big family - they will be able to easily connect to the main character.
Listened to this with my 11 y.o. We both thoroughly enjoyed it!
Serena (Cioccolato e Libri)
Recensione completa:

Mary Lou Finney scopre di dover scrivere una “cronaca” estiva. Non conosce neanche il significato di “cronaca”, come farà a scriverne una? Eppure, pian piano, ci riesce.
Comincia dalle cose più banali, per esempio i litigi con la sorella, i pasticci del fratellino più piccolo, il fatto che il cugino Carl Ray debba andare a vivere da loro…
Un momento, quest’ultima cosa non è tanto banale.
Carl Ray è un cugino che vive lontano da loro, senz
Ava Black
In estate voglio leggere libri leggeri e spensierati in riva al mare cosi', anche se questo romanzo e' stato pensato per le adolescenti e non per le ragazze della mia eta', ho deciso di leggerlo perche' in fondo mi piacciono queste storie al femminile tipiche dei romanzi di un po' di anni fa (se non sbaglio questo e' degli anni '90). Dunque, la protagonista del romanzo e' la tredicenne Mary Lou, che abita in una famiglia numerosa in cui regna, appunto, il solito normalissimo caos che viene messo ...more
I wish someone would tell me exactly what a journal is. When I asked my mother, she said, "Well, it's like a diary only different." That helps. She was going to explain more, but. Mrs. Furtz (the lady who just moved in across the street) called to say, that my brother Dennis was throwing eggs at her house, and my mother went berserk so she didn't finish telling me. How am I supposed to write a journal if I don't even know what one is?

I picked up Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech at the li
Oct 09, 2013 Alexa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely Normal Chaos
Mary Lou is a 13 year old girl who has an assignment for the summer, keep a journal and write about what happened everyday during the summer. Mary Lou is just a normal girl who lives in Easton, Ohio. Everything is normal until Mary Lou’s family receives a letter from Aunt Radene. The letter says that Carl Ray [Mary Lou’s cousin] will be coming down to find a job in Easton and will be living with Mary Lou’s family for a bit. When Carl Ray comes everything seems unfair to M
May 24, 2014 Patti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Absolutely Normal Chaos” is another delightful book for young teens, especially girls. Written in the form of a journal, 14 yr. old Mary Lou Finney tracks her summer adventures day by day, including her summer reading assignment of reading “The Odyssey”. We readers get to know Mary Lou’s inner feelings and secrets that begin blossoming in what can be a dramatic stage of life. Cousin Carl Ray invades the Finney household and ‘normal chaos’ begins...

The challenges all there - and all brand new fo
I have been wanting to read this book for awhile. I mean, just look at the title, it is like a mirror for the many chapters of my life. Definitely my thoughts as I would enter my classroom door each morning, look around and then prepare for my day, and pretty much my thoughts as I wake up and when I return home after a day of grad school life and the balancing act that it is. So, it is summer, so I read it and really enjoyed it. Granted I tend to enjoy all books that are written in a journal sty ...more
Renee Kirkpatrick
She was a normal young girl, with a chaotic family. Absolutely Normal Chaos is the name of the book I read, it is by Sharon Creech. I read this book because my aunt was talking about it to me one night when we were having dinner together.
It’s basically a journal book about a girl’s summer, her name is Mary Lou. She is assigned by her teacher to keep a journal over the summer and then when she comes back the next school year, they can share. The journal sums up all the crazy adventures and exper
Sammy L
Nov 04, 2012 Sammy L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quarter-2
In "Absolutely Normal Chaos," by Sharon Creech, a girl named Mary Lou, the second of five Finney children, is not at all excited to find out that her cousin Carl Ray is coming to live at their house for the summer, since he needs to find a job. Carl Ray is from the country, very unresponsive, and hard to understand. Also, he acts very mysterious. On top of that, she is assigned a journal to write for English, which she is dreading. When Mary Lou first starts to write the journal, she realizes th ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
A nice little read, but strays a little bit toward not so much didactic as perhaps orchestrated. The parallels between the protagonist and the odyssey and the reversal of her visit to West Virginia with her cousins visit to Ohio just seem a little bit too planned. As in teachers will try to make students talk about these aspects. The journal thing is also pretty transparent too- I think Creech matured a lot past this book although it still has her good, charming feel and accessible but not flipp ...more
Bree Ervin
I read this book out loud to my kids. We all enjoyed it - it touched on some important topics like self-identity, peer pressure, and most importantly, empathy!! That long lost skill that allows us to see and understand people who are not just like us.
The reason for the "low" star rating is simply because this was not my most favorite Sharon Creech book, and because I personally have a hard time withe the diary style books. (My kids love them and probably would have given this book 4 stars.)

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Great Middle Grad...: Absolutely Normal Chaos - Stand Alone or solid #2? 4 16 Jun 30, 2016 11:52AM  
book seris 6 19 Oct 18, 2011 05:29PM  
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I was born in South Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and grew up there with my noisy and rowdy family: my parents (Ann and Arvel), my sister (Sandy), and my three brothers (Dennis, Doug and Tom).
For a fictional view of what it was like growing up in my family, see Absolutely Normal Chaos. (In that book, the brothers even have the same names as my own brothers.) Our house was not only full of
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“Then I thought, boy, isn't that just typical? You wait and wait and wait for something, and then when it happens, you feel sad.” 498 likes
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