I have just finished an excellent book by Sharon Creech, by the name of Absolutely Normal Chaos. I had high expectations because of Sharon Creech's previous novel the superb Walk Two Moons that were pleasantly fulfilled. It was a very deep book. There isn't much I can connect to however, except for when Mr. Furtz died and Mary Lou (the main character) was so worried about her parents because Mr. Furtz, who lived across the street, died so suddenly. I would worry about my parents too if something happened to a neighbor like that. I'm glad I'm lucky enough that stuff like that hasn't happened. That's how I could understand her feelings. It's a just-right book because I could see that it in fact was quite deep in some parts and I could understand it.
When Carl Ray came to stay over the summer to find a job, Mary Lou was not happy. Carl Ray ate like a horse, never spoke, and didn't make his bed (she had to do it!). However, her feelings toward her cousin changed. It probably first started when their neighbor Mr. Furtz died suddenly, in the hospital during a routine checkup. Carl Ray started being a little more involved, as well as being surprising. Who would have thought Carl Ray had read The Odyssey, just like Mary Lou was right now. Eventually, after a pretty long while (involving Mary Lou starting to go out with a boy named Alex Cheevey and being forbidden by her mother to say "God!", "stupid" and "stuff". She finds all these harebrained (ha ha ha) synonyms that never really fit) Carl Ray even invited Mary Lou to stay for a week at his house in West Virginia! Mary Lou accepted (with help from Carl Ray's mother) and went two days later. Carl Ray hadn't moved out of his parents farmhouse, so when they got there his mom, brothers and sisters (not his dad because for some reason they had a pretty awkward relationship) all crowded around. There were a lot of stereotypical questions about 'The City' and after only a few days, Mary Lou had been embarrassed, frightened and grossed out and altogether wishing she could leave already. She convinced Carl Ray let her leave early, but he wanted to tell his mom and dad something about the strange, anonymous gift of lots of money and a ring with the initials C. F. The next day he drove her home and told her that his real father was Mr. Furtz, and he gave him the money and the ring. A couple of days later Carl Ray drove into a ditch and broke his arm and both his legs. Mary Lou was very frightened and hoped he would be OK. When he finally did wake up, she was very happy and they seemed to be the best of friends. That's how she changed about Carl Ray.
The problem of the story was resolved around when Carl Ray woke up and Alex Cheevey returned home. It was a very satisfying ending, in my opinion, not climactic, but a nice and quiet ending. If I could change a part of the book I would change how annoying Beth Ann is because I think Mary Lou has enough to deal with already. I think the author's message is to never give up.