Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

Setting: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Release Date: May 2, 2017

It all starts on a Tuesday that feels more like a Monday to 16-year-old Kai Sheehan. After a pop quiz and other daily woes, she goes home to find a letter from her older sister. It's a suicide note. Kai's sister is her rock, and the suicide note threatens to destroy all that Kai knows. What follows is Kai's dealings with grief, rage, and sadness. It's a path that leads her parents to send her to a camp for teens dealing with the same issues Kai faces -- a grief camp called the Tree House.

Here's the main thing I have to say about Just a Normal Tuesday. Be ready for waterworks. Reading that story with dry eyes became impossible. The author literally sucks you into the Sheehan's world and crying became the norm. This book tugs at the emotions, and you feel every ounce of Kai's grief in the first few chapters. I quickly ran through our half-empty box of Kleenex.

The more I read, the easier I thought it would become. That doesn't really happen. I still kept tearing up with each page read. Kim Turrisi nails the emotional aspect of grief. It reminded me a lot of the "what ifs" or "why couldn't I stop hers" that I experienced after a family member died from cirrhosis just months after swearing to me that she'd stopped drinking. It broke my heart, much as Kai's heart is broken when her sister commits suicide.

The characters at the camp - Graham, Jack, Ben, and Cass - also become fleshed out and like family. I can't say any character is more likable than the other. I loved them equally and wanted to see them heal. I couldn't stop reading until that happened.

Just a Normal Tuesday is a powerful, very touching story. It's sad and happy rolled into one big package that captures the pain, anger, and hope that hits you after the loss of a loved one.


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