Our New Normal

Fiction - LGBTQ
320 Pages
Reviewed on 12/07/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jennifer Brooks is the author of Braving the Storm and Facing the Storm, a dystopian series set in Pittsburgh. Both novels were Finalists in the 2016 and 2017 The Authors' Zone Awards, respectively. Her latest novel, Our New Normal, was on the Amazon Best-Seller list for New Releases in LGBT Literature & Fiction. When she is not writing, she is usually walking her doggo, hiking, making jewelry, or geeking out over television and movies.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Our New Normal by Jennifer Brooks is an amazing, bold Young Adult LGBTQ novel with its finger on the pulse of current events. Main character Victoria has it made. She's the richest girl in town, she and her clique are at the top of the school's food chain, and she pushes around anyone she doesn't like or feels is beneath her. Sound familiar, anyone? But then things get even more interesting. It begins to dawn on Victoria, (or Tori to her friends and others), that she has more than a platonic attraction to a fellow female classmate. It's a crush, and it brings changes to her life that she never expected or wanted. Her faith-based parents reject her and toss her from her home. Her friends turn their backs on her. She has to start all over, trying to find herself and live an authentic life.

I love the way this author explores the social ramifications of Tori's situation. Jennifer Brooks addresses bullying, banishment, homelessness, and confusion. A lot of teens dealing with this issue will relate to Tori's life and will see themselves in the characters. Besides the importance of the themes, this novel is extremely engaging and entertaining. The pages fly by as you are immersed in Tori's world, wishing things were different for her, and hoping for the best. The prose is direct and friendly, the dialogue fresh and energetic, the characters well-constructed. Our New Normal by Jennifer Brooks will make an impact and touch the hearts of YA readers everywhere.

Ankita Shukla

Our New Normal by Jennifer Brooks is a commendable step toward starting a conversation about many significant milestones in teenagers' lives if they belong to an LGBTQ community. By introducing readers to Victoria (aka Tori), Chloe, and many others, Jennifer Brooks has written fiction with a purpose that demonstrates the pressure that teenagers go through with bullying, and how the problem increases multifold if a teenager is not straight.

Tori had everything a girl could ask for: rich parents, the title and perks of the head cheerleader, a star quarterback as a boyfriend, and a group of popular friends. Yet, in her heart, there was something amiss. Only when she realized her attraction toward Chloe, she started comprehending the reason for that void in her heart. The realization filled her with dread. If she came out, there was a lot at stake: her highly religious parents would despise her, and her friends would not only break their bonds with her but also begin tormenting her for being a lesbian. However, in the matters of heart, when did logic ever win? So, putting aside her fears, she decided to come out. The repercussions, nonetheless, were more horrid than she could have ever imagined.

Jennifer Brooks picked two crucial topics -- bullying and sexuality -- and weaved an engaging story. Our New Normal shows the prejudices against the LGBTQ community and allows its characters to start an intellectual debate to distinguish right from wrong. Love is love -- is it true? Yes, a thousand times, yes. Nevertheless, the plot does not stubbornly assume it to be the truth. It patiently moves through the streams of insults, unbelievable prejudices, and religious "set-in-stone" viewpoints. And then, it leaves the final decision to readers' sense of justice. The characters, including the side characters, have been given enough opportunities to grow and inspire. How Tori came out of her cocoon and morphed into an independent girl was fascinating. With many twists and cerebral as well as emotional dialogues, Our New Normal by Jennifer Brooks is a must-read for LGBTQ fiction lovers.

Asher Syed

Our New Normal by Jennifer Brooks is a novel that revolves around the elitist mechanisms of a small group that formulates the majority rule in a tale of high school cliques, classism, bullying, and intolerance. Perched at the top of the hierarchy sits Victoria “Tori” Reynolds with her crew, ready en masse to tear down those who are not to her liking. Students like Chloe Summers, a teen who cares more for substance over style and has never had anything handed to her, is the usual target for Tori & Co to put back into her place. While introducing herself, Chloe becomes an anomaly in Tori's space as she seems to be either in her presence or in her mind, and it's more than just coincidence. As Tori permits herself to explore her feelings, she and Chloe both find themselves beyond the realm of casual contact, and the outing of their true relationship turns Tori's world upside down.

Jennifer Brooks taps into the LGBTQ+ space of teenage relationships through the story of Tori and Chloe in Our New Normal. This is a love story that to many will appear to be niche or uncommon, but the reality is that the LGBTQ+ youth and teenagers are wholly mainstream, whether you choose to see them or not. The writing is tight and good even if some of the high school antics and personalities can dip into some clichés, but I loved the meet-cute and pairing for a debate, and the cover of proximity a team project gives. There is all the newness of a relationship until everything comes crashing down. This is where Brooks' writing really takes off, ripping Tori from the comfort of a privileged background. For many, this is the true cost and for an adult it is enormous. For a teenager, it can be deadly. There are flickers of support from within even Tori's estranged connections, which is nice. There's also an authentic, defining moment of asserted agency as the story wraps up that will leave readers warmly believing that some things really are worth fighting for.

Vincent Dublado

A novel about choice and acceptance, Jennifer Brooks’s Our New Normal is a story that centers on Victoria Reynolds, a young woman who could not ask for anything more. She comes from a well-to-do family, yet manages to sustain her level of lifestyle and does not depend too much on her parents. She is a cheerleader who has been dating Aaron, the star quarterback and the apple of every girl’s eye. Tori and her clique are a group to be reckoned with, as they occupy the popularity high ground within the campus. But an epiphany changes everything when she realizes she is drawn to another girl. This throws her into a huge predicament out of fear that she could be ostracized by her conservative parents, her friends, and society in general. And Aaron? He always feels like a pathetic puppy in Tori’s company, and a star quarterback deserves to be treated better.

There is a striking grain of truth profoundly addressed that makes Our New Normal an interesting read. Tori is a well-evolved protagonist, and you become witness to her change after she faces the truth about her identity and her choice. At the beginning of the story, you will find yourself envying and loathing her at the same time, but her nuanced experience in gender acceptance and how it molds her to become a better person at the end is a careful examination of how she wisely used her freedom to choose. Brooks thoughtfully examines contemporary social issues such as gender, bullying, and relationships without preaching its message, but rather blending it into a narrative that provokes you to think as you read along. If you plan to read an LGBTQ-themed young adult novel, Our New Normal should be on your list.

Foluso Falaye

As a cheerleader with wealthy parents and a star quarterback boyfriend, Victoria Reynolds has a perfect life for a seventeen-year-old girl. Chloe, on the other hand, is not so popular or well-to-do. Also, her mates suspect that she and her friend are lesbians. Chloe doesn't like Tori and her popular group of friends much as they act snobbish towards Chloe and her friends. However, when Chloe and Tori get grouped together for a team debate, things take an expected turn. As Tori explores her sexuality, she begins to face discrimination from her parents who have her thrown out of their home as punishment. Will Tori find a way to survive being homeless at seventeen? Jennifer Brooks exposes the dark side of what some people with unpopular sexual orientations go through in Our New Normal.

A fun high school narrative that conveys a positive message! Our New Normal took me back to my high school days and the books I read then, reminding me of what I loved about them: rumors, dating, cheating, betrayal, friendship, prom, mean girls, and other amusing themes. The sparkly yet deep plot is greatly entertaining and loaded with many unexpected twists and turns that will have you completely immersed in it. Jennifer Brooks adopts a third-person perspective that constantly shifts between the characters, giving readers a broad view of the story. This approach, though, proved to be disconcerting in some parts as the focus shifts too often between the characters without enough demarcations. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the turn of events and loved how the book projects an intricate and captivating story about discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community. The world needs to see more books like this!