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Anything But Ordinary by Valerie Hobbs
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's review
Mar 23, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: teen

Winifred and Bernie have always been outsiders. From the moment they met in eighth grade, they have been weirdos, individuals, and in love with each other. They have vowed to each other that they will never be the most dreadful thing of all--ordinary--and that they will stick together through college and beyond.

But then Bernie's mother dies, and Bernie falls behind. His grades drop, he doesn't apply to college, and when Winifred goes off to University of California at Santa Barbara, for the first time since eighth grade, they leave each oher behind.

College isn't everything Winifred hoped for, but fortunately, she has three savvy, popular roommates to show her the ropes, remake her in their image, and rename her Wini. By the time Bernie has caught up with her, she's become, well, ordinary.

Bernie and Wini need to find themselves before they can rediscover each other.

This book reads like a fairy tale, the kind where you know love will come through in the end, but that doesn't make it predictable. Somewhere in the middle you start to be afraid that maybe this fairy tale won't have a happy ending after all. And somewhere in the middle of the story, the stereotyped characters start becoming real people. The potential cliches never come together--instead, they become real stories of real people, trying to make their way.

This isn't always an easy read--watching Wini and Bernie both self-destruct in their own ways is difficult and sometimes painful. But it's very honest, and it feels real and true, and sometimes, that's the best thing of all.

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