Review: No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn (*** ATTENTION: SPOILERS AHEAD***)

Title: No Ordinary Life
Author: Suzanne Redfearn
Publisher: Grand Central
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
ISBN: 9781455533909
Number of Pages: 387
How I Got It: from publicist
Format: paperback

Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.
Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives.

My Review: (SPOILERS AHEAD): Suzanne Redfearn's debut novel, Hush Little Baby, was my favorite book of 2013 and I was anxiously awaiting her next work, but I was skeptical. Hush Little Baby was going to be pretty hard to follow up. I had read it in a day and my blood pressure was through the roof the entire time (only when reading books is that probably a good thing.) Well just like Hush Little Baby, I could not put down No Ordinary Life. My book light was shining way past my bedtime. The short chapters made it so easy to say "just one more" plus every chapter ended in a way that you HAD to know what happened next. Before I was able to start reading, my book BFF Tamara told me she hated the mom character, Faye. I wasn't going to let that sway my opinions and thought I would not go into the novel with that notion. As I began reading I was excited to argue that Faye was doing the best she could. But as I read further, I wanted to throttle her! Redfearn doesn't shy away from writing unlikeable characters. Gordon was one sick SOB in Hush Little Baby, and Faye's husband, Sean, is a total slime ball. But I was I supposed to be hating Faye this much? Like whhhhhhyyyy didn't she get a divorce and claim abandonment? She says because it costs money? I bet her mom would have helped her out and there are agencies to assist her if she didn't want to ask her mom. I guess because I've dealt with shit like this that I have no patience for women who let men walk all over them, or worse abandon their children. I told Tamara "I swear to god if she lets her husband back in her life I'm going to scream." Then about 10 pages later, I screamed. I had predicted that he was back because he knew about the money, and I was right. I thought Redfearn did a great job combining pop culture favorites and behind the scenes gossip from multiple television shows to create The Foster Band. I felt like it was a bit Full House (the Olson twins and Jody Sweetin's drug use) meets Seventh Heaven (Stephen Collins sexual abuse scandal) with singing. It was interesting to consider all the moving parts and time requirements/limitations involved in shooting a show with minors. 

Now let's talk about Emily: I couldn't believe that Faye let Emily miss those soccer games. Isn't there some sort of carpool? Then to smack her when she is clearly crying out for attention? And then to not care that she really smacked her but is upset when it is implied that she smacked Molly? I could go on and on about all the things Faye did that I thought were wrong but Emily's rape was the last straw. Do kids sneak out and do things they shouldn't? Yes. Are the parents to blame? Usually not. Can something tragic happen during these times? Sometimes. I don't blame Faye for Emily's rape but her response was absolutely atrocious. I can't believe she didn't take her directly to the police station and that she let her shower. Like they are just going to sweep it all under the rug. I also felt like the rape was thrown in at the last minute and the ending was rushed. I think this book would be enjoyed by readers who like unlikeable characters. The world of child acting is full of tragedy and manipulation. Redfearn did a wonderful job of giving readers a peak at that world and the pros and cons of families living that life.

About the Author 

Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

Twitter: @SuzanneRedfearn

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***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***


Judy Krueger said...

Whoa! I might have to read this since I live in LA. Did you ever read The Love Song of Jonny Valentine? About a boy singer, kind of like Justin Bieber.

Carmen said...

Wow, Rhiannon, you did have strong opinions about this one. :-) That's a measure of the influence books have on us bookworms.

Rhiannon Johnson said...

Judy, I have not read that. I might have to look into it. Carmen, I did have strong opinions, but I think that is the mark of a good book. I finish so many that I'm "meh" about that I like one that lights me up somehow.