From the New York Times bestselling author of The Impossible Vastness of Us and the On Dublin Street series comes a heartfelt and beautiful new young adult novel, set in Scotland, about daring to dream and embracing who you are.
THE FRAGILE ORDINARY is now available where all fine books are sold.
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About THE FRAGILE ORDINARY
I am Comet Caldwell.
And I sort of, kind of, absolutely hate my name.
People expect extraordinary things from a girl named Comet. That she’ll be effortlessly cool and light up a room the way a comet blazes across the sky.
But from the shyness that makes her book-character friends more appealing than real people to the parents whose indifference hurts more than an open wound, Comet has never wanted to be the center of attention. She can’t wait to graduate from her high school in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the only place she ever feels truly herself is on her anonymous poetry blog. But surely that will change once she leaves to attend university somewhere far, far away.
When new student Tobias King blazes in from America and shakes up the school, Comet thinks she’s got the bad boy figured out. Until they’re thrown together for a class assignment and begin to form an unlikely connection. Everything shifts in Comet’s ordinary world. Tobias has a dark past and runs with a tough crowd—and none of them are happy about his interest in Comet. Targeted by bullies and thrown into the spotlight, Comet and Tobias can go their separate ways…or take a risk on something extraordinary.
“Endearing and relatable, Comet-the girl who is searching for her place in this world-will shoot through the sky and into your heart.”
— #1 New York Times bestselling author Erin Watt
The Fragile Ordinary, the title of Samantha Young’s newest release, seems quite contradictory; the implication that something normal…something standard…something regular could be vulnerable or delicate doesn’t quite fit its moniker, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less true…it doesn’t mean there’s not value and understanding in that paradoxical idea.
In the continuum between ordinary and extraordinary, especially when it comes to teenagers, there’s a learning curve due to the pressures, insecurities, and expectations that come with traversing through hallways and classrooms where people are constantly judged and evaluated based on their actions and their words, and what that means for those individuals who see themselves as nothing more than ordinary is that they must contend with labels, pressures, and bullying, upsetting the delicate balance that exists for them on any given day, making it difficult to keep themselves and their lives in check, which forces a spotlight on those who would never choose to be exposed as anything but regular.
Based on her name alone, there are certain expectations for Comet Caldwell – thoughts on how she should act and who she should be, and even though that’s not the path that she would ever choose for herself, it places her in a rather precarious position that is further aggravated by the appearance of a certain American bad boy – one who enters her life and brings with him his own issues and demons to fight, which means that, together, Comet and Tobias need to decide if they’re meant to be an extraordinary duo or remain behind the scenes as unequivocally ordinary as they can be.
Before I go any further with my review, I think it’s important for readers to understand that I don’t read a lot of young adult literature; it’s not that I don’t enjoy it; it’s just that my reading schedule, which includes author review teams, ARCs as a blogger, and the books I beta read, isn’t conducive to all of the YA books that have been released. But, not only is Samantha Young one of my absolute favorite authors, but her storytelling and the characters she constructs never fail to illicit a wide range of emotions and thoughts.
And The Fragile Ordinary did just that!
All readers will relate to Comet in some significant way; to me, I felt like she was my high school self kindred spirit. Everything she endures…her views on life and living…the way she handles the multitude of difficult situations and decisions…her love of book characters and her connection to them…Comet is such a relatable character and the turmoil that surrounds her doesn’t feel the least bit contrived or over the top and that is exactly the kind of main character readers can identify with, support, and cheer on because as Comet experiences all of drama and pressures of being a female teenager, her plight resonates with everyone who hears/reads her story.
Tobias King definitely has a hardened edge to him, but in some ways I think that helps him deal with his past and the aspects of his current life that seem out of his control. He doesn’t appear to be someone who would mesh well with Comet, but that’s the thing about preconceived notions and judging people based solely on what is said about them and the mask they wear. To truly understand someone, there needs to be an investment…a common ground and slowly but surely that connection is made and solidified between Comet and Tobias, and it’s heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time simply because of how things play out and the choices that have to be made, not only for them individually but also for any future they could possibly have together.
In every sense of the word, The Fragile Ordinary is a paradoxical title – one that teaches relatable and significant life lessons and then goes about exemplifying those teachings through two main characters who every reader will identify with and be inspired by…Comet and Tobias’ story is an amazing story of resilience…of friendship…of love, and it realistically illustrates a teenager’s journey through life – the highs and the lows and everything in between.
It’s definitely a story that stay with me and its lessons will not soon be forgotten.
5 Poison Apples
By the time we got to the house and I let us into my bedroom, I was a jittering wreck. Massive waves of nervous energy were emanating from Tobias, making me worse. He was rarely nervous about anything. Once inside my room, I waited impatiently as Tobias slumped down on my bed, elbows on knees, head in hands.
I shrugged out of my jacket and unwound my scarf. Still waiting.
“Comet,” he huffed, not looking up. “Sit down, okay, you’re making me nervous.”
“You’re making me nervous.” I sat on the armchair across from him. “You and Stevie didn’t kill someone, did you? Did Dean dispose of the body for you and now he’s blackmailing you?”
Tobias’s broad shoulders shook and he lifted his head to stare at me with amusement tinged with sadness. “You’ve got to stop reading so many books.”
He smiled at me, his look so tender that I squirmed with the need to shoot across the room and throw my arms around him. Instead I met his gaze and asked directly, “What happened back there?”
“I just chose you over Stevie,” he said.
I swear my eyebrows must have hit my hairline at this pronouncement. “What?”
“Stevie and some of the guys have been hanging around Dean more and more. Dean is a dealer. And he’s part of something bigger—we’re talking an adult-sized, criminal gang who deal drugs and steal cars for a living. Dean deals cocaine to kids. Blair Lochrie High School is one of his grounds. He sells to quite a few kids there.”
At our high school?
Class A drugs at our high school?
“Bloody hell,” I whispered, “Where have I been?”
“Where I prefer you—safe with your nose stuck in a book.”
Hearing the worry in my voice, he winced. “I tried, Com. I tried to keep him out of it, but he’s so messed up and I couldn’t stop him. I hung around to make sure he was okay.”
“Is that why you’ve been avoiding me?” God, please let that be why he was avoiding me.
“Yes.” A million apologies swirled in his gorgeous eyes. “I didn’t mean for Stevie to find out about you, because I didn’t want you anywhere near the stuff he was getting involved in. But then you two got along, so well I thought you might…have feelings for each other, so I told him that he either stopped hanging around Dean or he stopped hanging around you. He agreed keeping you out of that stuff, away from the boys, was better for you. So we stopped coming around as much and then stopped coming around at all. Tonight was his initiation into Dean’s crew. It was supposed to be both our initiations, I guess, because Dean was sending Stevie to some other party with drugs, and I was following Stevie as backup. Now I’m not.”
There was so much to process in what he’d just said.
My brain blurted out the first thing it wanted to deal with. “Stevie and I don’t have feelings for each other. I don’t like Stevie, Tobias.”
His eyes widened as my tone implied that I liked someone else. “No?”
“Good. Because I just left him to that hell.” He stood up and started pacing back and forth. “I tried to help him even if it meant hurting you, and he just let himself get pulled further down into that crap.”
I stood up, reached out to touch him, to slow him down. He stilled, looking at my hand on his arm. “What did you mean? You chose me over Stevie?”
“Comet, Dean made it clear that if I left with you, I couldn’t go around there or anywhere near him again. So I either had to stay and go with Stevie as his backup on a drug deal and leave you to handle Dean on your own, or I could walk out of there with you and leave Stevie to do it alone. For good.” His gaze moved over my face, as if he were committing each feature to memory.
My heart started thudding so hard the blood rushed through my ears. “So you chose me.”
“Of course,” he choked out. “I’d never let anything happen to you. And seeing you there…I never want to see that crap touch you again. It was a wake-up call for me. I don’t want to be a part of that shit either. That’s not me.”
Seeing something in his expression made me brave in a way I never thought I could be. Knees trembling, I stepped up to him and placed a hand on his chest, over his heart. His chest was strong and hard beneath my hand, his body heat surrounding me and that woodsy, spicy, citrusy scent he wore teasing my senses. I wanted to sway into him, hold him tight, and never let go, but I had something important to say first now that I had his absolute attention. “Being a good student, working for something, achieving something, playing hard at football…it wasn’t all for your dad, Tobias. There is no maybe about it. Deep down you want those things for yourself, too. You’re smart and good and such a special person.” I gave him a tremulous smile, wondering if how I felt for him was as obvious to him as it was to apparently everyone else. “You deserve the life you really want.”
His chest rose and fell faster beneath my hand as we stared into one another’s eyes. Tobias licked his lips, as if he was nervous. “What if I want to get my grades back up?”
“Then I’ll help.”
“And join the rugby team?”
“Then you’ll try out.”
He nodded and slowly lifted his hand to cover mine. He took a step closer to me, his breathing sounding a little shaky. The thud of his heart racing beneath my palm made mine accelerate. My legs shook and my fingers curled into Tobias’s shirt. “And…what if what I really want…is you?”
Joy flooded me. I can’t truly describe the feeling. The euphoria. The excitement and thrill and fear and worry that cascaded through me at the thought of being with Tobias King.
No matter the plethora of emotions that came with his question, my answer was instant and absolute. “Then you have me.”
About Samantha Young
Samantha Young is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows. Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook & hardback June 2017
Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for Hero. On Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.
Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.