Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley

Published: 28th April 2020Goodreads badge
Allen & Unwin
Pages: 248
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

At sixteen, neurodivergent Peta Lyre is the success story of social training. That is, until she finds herself on a school ski trip – and falling in love with the new girl. Peta will need to decide which rules to keep, and which rules to break…

‘I’m Peta Lyre,’ I mumble. Look people in the eye if you can, at least when you greet them. I try, but it’s hard when she is smiling so big, and leaning in.

Peta Lyre is far from typical. The world she lives in isn’t designed for the way her mind works, but when she follows her therapist’s rules for ‘normal’ behaviour, she can almost fit in without attracting attention.

When a new girl, Sam, starts at school, Peta’s carefully structured routines start to crack. But on the school ski trip, with romance blooming and a newfound confidence, she starts to wonder if maybe she can have a normal life after all.

When things fall apart, Peta must decide whether all the old rules still matter. Does she want a life less ordinary, or should she keep her rating normal?

This is a fantastic book that gets into the mind of a neurodivergent teen and helps you understand how messy and complicated things can be and how everyday things can become incredibly complicated when you’re trying to behave like you’re “supposed” to.

Peta comes across on the page instantly and you can gauge who she is and her view on the world. Her friendships are important, she’s always trying to do the right thing and lives her life guided by the rules she has had drilled into her. Her exhaustion is evident but at the same time seeing her able to be herself and free from the rules is refreshing.

The story has a lot of sharp turns and rough edges but what I loved about that is this whole thing is being told through Peta’s eyes. She’s already told us her mind works differently so to have a story suddenly shift made sense. Logic works differently for Peta and while it can make the story take a dark or different turn it’s because situations change and life changes around Peta and she is constantly fighting to keep up. What makes sense to her won’t make sense to others but it’s always made clear just how much Peta is trying.

Whateley flips between the past and present as we see Peta’s journey and her experiences which helps us understand her and how she’s come to be where she is. I loved being inside Peta’s head because what she thinks she is doing isn’t always what others think she’s doing. Having the obvious miscommunication on the page only adds to forcing the reader to understand how the brain can interpret things differently for each person and you never know what anyone else is going through.

Seeing Peta come into her own is wonderful, finding herself and her place, as well as strengthening relationships is a great reward having seen her struggle as she recounts the issues she’s had in her past and in her present.

It’s a great achievement of Whateley to give Peta the right voice that speaks volumes about her experiences and I really hope it’s a book that provides an insight into the life of other neurodivergent people.

You can purchase Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

DymocksAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust