Today is my stop on the tour for Far From Normal!
I have so, so much to gush about right now 😍 so buckle up, we are in for a treat today. Not only am I going to tell you how much I adored this book, but I have the amazing author for an interview too! AND a giveaway. 😌👌🏻I am super hyped for this post.
From author Becky Wallace comes a Devil Wears Prada-inspired YA romance, in which “normal girl” Maddie must repair the image of Major League Soccer’s bad boy to ace her internship. Far from Normal releases on September 22nd, 2020 from Page Street Publishing!
Head over to my instagram to enter the giveaway!
THANK YOU TO MTMC TOURS FOR HAVING ME!
Maddie McPherson is sick of Normal—both her hometown of Normal, Illinois and being the ‘normal’ sibling. But when she lands a summer internship with a sports marketing firm, she finally has a chance to crawl out of her genius brother’s shadow. Not to mention, a glowing letter of recommendation could land her the scholarship she needs to get into her dream college.
But Maddie’s nickname is “Calamaddie” for a reason, and when the company assigns her to work with nineteen-year-old MLS star Gabriel Fortuna—who’s famous for crashing a Maserati after flubbing Italy’s World Cup hopes—she wonders if she’s set herself up for another embarrassment.
She takes the brooding soccer star to his appointments, and it’s going well—a bit too well. The more time they spend together, the more Maddie wonders if Gabriel’s lack of catastrophe has more to do with his flirtations than her abilities. Falling for a footballer is exactly how “Calamaddie” would botch this internship. But with the firm calling her a miracle worker for keeping Gabriel out of the tabloids, is her heart worth risking?
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In second grade, Becky Wallace had to sit in the corner because she refused to write anything besides princess stories and fairy tales (and because she talked too much). Her time in isolation gave her plenty of opportunities to dream up the fantasy worlds she’s been dabbling with ever since. She was lucky enough to find her own, real-life prince charming. They have four munchkins and live in a happy little town outside Houston, Texas.
I had such a good time reading this!
Far From Normal is both thoughtful and delightful. It’s filled with those chaotic romcom moments we all expect and love, but also has layers that will leave your heart heart aching. I couldn’t stop reading. It had such perfect pacing. Here to stan a beautifully paced book. 😌👌🏻
Let’s talk about the story…
We follow Maddy McPherson, a very normal and average girl from a town literally called Normal. She’s travelled to Chicago to stay with her rich fancy aunt and intern for a PR company that is often smoothing and fixing up the image of cantankerous and difficult famous clients. And who does Maddy accidentally tumble into working with? The most gorgeous, hotheaded, difficult famous Italian teen prodigy futball player: Gabriel Fortunato.
It gives us ALL the romcom-office-feels: Maddy is treated like the coffee maker in the office by snobby bosses, she’s desperate to prove herself after being called normal and untalented all her life by her family, she’s clumsy and makes a few chaotic decisions, she sort of has a catastrophe with her aunt’s dog and a bike and Gabriel….
But it wasn’t just fluff (although I LOVE good fluff). It explored some deeper themes with a lot of care. I was worried Gabriel would be rude or awful, who’d have to learn to be “nice” — but he actually wasn’t. From the start Gabriel is this privileged soccer star, yes hotheaded and seemingly dismissive. But so much of it was a front for loneliness that really consumed him. No one cared about HIM, just him as a “brand”. His privacy is gone, his family has been disrespected because of his fame, fans have stalked him, people genuinely hate him for losing games. He just wants to eat good Italian food and play piano gently. He was actually so soft 😭👌🏻 I loved how the book discussed how being a public person is sometimes not even that person’s choice, and losing your right to BE YOURSELF (and have to get permission for everything you do) is so unfair.
And Maddy? Just a DELIGHT. I loved her!
She was so real and honest, so keen on doing the best job and working hard and earning her way. She was an absolute machine of goodwill and kindness. Always baffled when someone was cruel or mean. And she’s just been sidelined her whole life and left in the shadows and doubted. So she’s really desperate to be worth something. I cheered for her every step of the way honestly.
It mixes these soft and introspective moments about being forced to prove yourself, with chaos and quips and a swoony romance and delicious Italian food. It’s about two people who want to be seen for who they truly are, but don’t know if the risk of being vulnerable is worth it…
How did Far From Normal go from seed idea to published novel? Can you tell us a little about your journey?
Oh, dear. I knew I was going to be asked that question, but the answer is super embarrassing. Pretty much everyone has read chapter two by this point—and if you haven’t you can read it here. Quick summary: The main character, Maddie, is riding a bike along Lake Michigan with her dog, Watford. Watty dives down the stairs after a ball in a sand soccer tournament, which causes Maddie to crash the bike into the game.
So, yeah. That happened. In real life. To me.
Except I just suck at riding a bike. There was no dog pulling me down the stairs. (News flash! You can forget how to ride a bike.) I was in a dress and kitten heels, went over the handlebars, and into a semi-pro volleyball tournament. When I opened my eyes—the jury is still out on whether or not I had a concussion—I was surrounded by four shirtless men. It was…a moment. Like the most embarrassing moment of my life.
I figure things happen for a reason, and I’m convinced I crashed that bike in Chicago so it would spur this story. I ruminated on it for five years before I figured out the plot and characters. Luckily, my editor loved the concept of a normal girl who really wanted to stand out and pushed me to write Maddie’s story better. I’m honestly so pleased with how FAR FROM NORMAL turned out and I hope you will too!
I am definitely wincing that you went through that moment like Maddy 😩😂 Can you tell us 3 random facts about Maddie?
Her family always watches a movie together every Sunday night, complete with buttered popcorn and big boxes of candy. Her dad went through a phase where he wanted his kids to love the movies from his childhood, so Maddie has watched a lot of really awful (and sometimes awesome) ‘80s movies.
Maddie loves carbs. Noodles, pizza, cake, sugary candy—she eats it all. Which works in her favor because Gabe loves all those things too and takes her to some awesome restaurants.
Honestly this book left me craving pizza so bad. 😍 What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Revising! Once I’ve nailed down a draft, I love going back and making it better. I actually thrive on really difficult edit letters. I mean… cry a little at first. But then I dive into the work and love the process of making a story gleam.
Oh I relate to finding that satisfaction of watching chaotic thoughts turn into a tight and polished manuscript. What’s your favourite line in Far From Normal?
“Gabe flies down the hall, pulling an Adidas T-shirt over his head as he walks. I gape at the body that could have posed for Michelangelo. Or was it Donatello? Everything from last year’s humanities class flies out of my head when I’m presented with a real Italian masterpiece.”
And lastly (most importantly 😌) was any chocolate harmed in the making of this novel? 😉
Not just any chocolate, my friend. I ate my bodyweight in good, European chocolate. Having a friend for Sweden has benefits. I actually had to hide my stash from myself, which is nearly impossible to do. 😉
I’m definitely thinking I need to find some Swedish chocolate here…such solid advice. Anyway!! Thank you so so much for chatting, Becky, this was brilliant fun, and loved getting this insight into your work 💛
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let me know if Far From Normal is on your tbr pile!! do you read many romcoms? any recommendations?