cover image Anything But Ordinary

Anything But Ordinary

Valerie Hobbs, Author . FSG $16 (168p) ISBN 978-0-374-30374-7

Die-hard romantics will delight in Hobbs's (Carolina Crow Girl ) newest offering about two New Jersey teens. Bernie Federman and Winifred Owens feel like social outcasts throughout middle and high school. What draws Bernie to Winifred is her individuality ("She was as popular at Pittstown Middle as the cafeteria meat loaf"). As Bernie and Winifred navigate their way into high school, the two fall in love. Both gifted students, they make plans to attend the same college where Winifred will study nanoscience and Bernie will become a writer. Their plans take an unexpected turn after Bernie's mother dies from cancer and he loses all motivation to do anything. Hobbs's novel contains all the elements of a light romance, but she introduces something of a cautionary tale. After Winifred heads off to college in Santa Barbara, Bernie decides to drive his old truck cross-country to be with her. However, he is unprepared for the new Wini, who has changed her major to communications and looks just like everyone else on campus. Hobbs covers the years with smooth pacing, always keeping her protagonists front and center. The third-person narrative switches between the teens' perspectives, building suspense about whether they can work things out. Teens will sympathize with Winifred as she tries to discover who she really is without losing the one thing she comes to realize is irreplaceable. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)