Cover Image: Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened

Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened

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Member Reviews

4 🌟 
this was a very touching middle-grade story about a young boy named Justin who loses his father.
Justin is struggling to reconcile with his father's passing as well as his father's past that was never given to him. His father was a veteran from the Vietnam war who suffered greatly during his service. He spoke very little and was a reserved man, who often spent most of his time thinking. Justin is not only navigating his grief but also the grief of his family and the normal occurrences of 7th grade. 

I loved this book it not only touched me but also inspired me to learn more about where I live. Justin is a smart young boy who I actually related to even though I am not a boy nor am I in 7th grade. I recommend this story to everyone. It was touching and heartwarming and made me appreciate those I love to the fullest degree.

murphy is the mvp tho

tw: loss of a parent, mild bullying, grief
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Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened gives readers a glimpse of one year in the life of young Justin Olson and his family following the unexpected death of his father, a veteran suffering from PTSD. The story is told through Justin's POV.

The year is 1991 in small-town Wicapi, Minnesota. Justin is in 7th grade, trying to come to terms with the loss of his dad and to understand the circumstances surrounding his death. The family is close-knit, but as can be expected, each of them is dealing with their grief in different ways. His mother spends most of her time at work or at the church, while his older brother, Murphy, a junior in high school, has given up playing the sports he loves to work part-time at KFC to help with the family's finances. 

This book is so deep and rich that it is quite hard to believe it is a debut effort. It is heart-warming, heart-breaking and uplifting in turn. Justin is so authentic and real that I felt like a 7th grade boy while reading his story. AWESOME!! This is definitely an author I'm going to watch! It's one of those books that stay with you, and would bring new things to the reader's attention when reread.

I highly recommend this book. Add it to your TBR pile now. You'll be glad you did!

My thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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Justin is in seventh grade when his world is turned upside down. His father died suddenly and Justin doesn’t really understand the details of his death. His dad had always been somewhat of a lost soul since Vietnam, and Justin is afraid that he ended his own life. Told over the course of a school year, Justin story echoes what so many children experience when they see a beloved  parent suffering the effects of trauma. Along the way Justin meets friends and teachers, that help him understand the meaning of his dad’s life and death. This helps Justin find meaning of his own.
This book is about families, grief, trauma, and healing. There were several aspects about this book that I really enjoyed. First I love that it was set in the 90s.  The absence of social media, the Internet, the constant newsreel etc. was so refreshing to read in a middle grades novel. I also loved Justin’s family. I feel they were a realistic example of a family in the aftermath of this type of death. The author did a good job matching them up together. I highly recommend this book for middle schoolers and grown ups. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.
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Justin is trying to survive some major life changes: his father has died and his mother and brother are trying to keep the household afloat financially. A coming of age story of a boy dealing with grief. 

What I Didn’t Like:
-Justin’s voice is a little hard to drop into initially. It took me maybe two chapters before I was completely comfortable with his voice and personality. 
-Time jumps. There were a few points when this story takes a time jump that feels a little jarring. 
-Content warnings that may bother other people: PTSD, Vietnam war, possible suicide, bullying, and death are all in this story. 

What I Did Like:
-Realistic depiction of grief. Justin’s situation involves death and questions that surround that death in realistic and incredible ways. The best part about this is that this book is written for a middle grade audience, meaning it explores grief in a way that will make sense to kids. 
-Friendship and loyalty. This book explores a lot of big concepts. One of those is friendship, explored not only through Justin and Phuc but also through Justin and his brother. The way they relate to each other and react to each other is wonderful and definitely causes some emotional moments for readers. 
-Characters. The main characters in this story, especially Justin, are very well written. You get a sense of their personality and you absolutely root for them to succeed. 

Who Should Read This One:
-Readers who like contemporary stories that realistically look at grief. 

My Rating: 4 stars. I enjoyed this emotional contemporary story and all middle grade readers will as well.
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Justin is trying to understand so many things in his life as a middle grade student, but the one thing that won't leave the center stage is that his father left one night for a smoke and never returned. As Justin tries to come to terms with his fathers death he learns to rely on his Mother, brother, friend Phuc and others in the community he would never dreamed of.
Justin is able to come to terms with his father's death as he realizes, "in the end, we all just do the best we can with what we've got."
Thank you Netgalley for the advanced copy .
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This story was heartbreaking and necessary all at once. Justin's dad dies in a trolley accident, his brother and Mom seem to try and move on with their lives, and it leaves him at a loss. His brother works all the time to try and help, and his Mom spends a lot of time in Church. Add in all the typical middle school stuff, and it's a tough time for Justin. I don't want to spoil the plot but, it's worth mentioning the Stranger Things Vibe. I'd hand this to any receptive kid grades maybe four through eight; it isn't an easy read, but an important one.
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I received a free digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Beautiful, poignant language. This story of young Justin finding his place in love, family, and himself after the tragic death of his father. While I wasn’t on the edge of my seat with this book, I felt there were some powerful messages inside that could be very important for middle-grade readers.
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As a children's librarian who does try to keep up with what's new and exciting in middle grade, I do sometimes struggle with it. Often the writing and/or content of the book doesn't grab me and I have to continually put myself in the mindset of someone much younger to enjoy the selections at all. That's not the case here! I think tweens/teens/adults could all read this book and enjoy it.The characters all felt real and fleshed out, and the way Justin dealt with his grief seemed very realistic. I enjoyed the splash of hockey and the history project subplot. Would definitely recommend.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for providing me with an ARC of this title for review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
After nearly a year Justin Olson is still trying to understand the death of his father. So many things have changed and he is trying to figure out what it all means. His brother, Murphy, spends the majority of his time working at KFC instead of being a typical high schooler and playing his favorite sports. His mom seems to spend her time at either work or at church. Then there are all the questions he has about his father’s death. Why did he have to die? What happened the day he died? Was it really an accident? Questions he fears that may never be answered. This coming of age tale follows Justin as he tries to navigate his way through family, the loss of his father, and acceptance. 
For the most part I did enjoy this book. However, there were a few things that didn’t flow very well for me. For example, I felt like much of the book were just streams of thought. Which made it somewhat difficult to read at times. Justin has several different nicknames that have no origin and just seem to come out of nowhere with no real connection. And some of the characters and plot elements aren’t developed very well.  
However, having said all that I still feel like this was a good look at the grief process. That no one person goes through it the same and that is very evident amongst everyone in the Olson family. I do feel as though this would be a good choice for middle schoolers. 
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Oh, this book just gripped at my heart! I loved this story so so much. I love MG books that handle really hard topics with grace, and I thought that this story did exactly that. I loved the writing, and the family dynamics, and characters.  I definitely recommend picking this one up.
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This book was well done. I found it truthful to life that the main character didn’t get all his answers in the end. Life doesn’t always wrap up in a pretty bow, and we don’t often know what is going on in other people’s minds. This book does a good job of expressing that. The relationships between the characters felt genuine and I enjoyed getting to know each of them.
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It's 1991, and Justin is adjusting to life without his father, who was recently killed in an odd accident with the local trolley. His father, who had fought in Vietnam, had managed to hold a job, but struggled with life after being in the war. Now, it's just Justin, his older brother, and their mother, trying to scrape by in their small Minnesota town. Justin is tired of being "the boy whose father was killed", but is having trouble moving on himself. He has a good friend in Phuc (pronounced "Fo"), and has a crush on Jenni. He is assigned a history day project on conflict, and instead of choosing a war, as his teacher wants him to, he researches the local history of the Native American tribe who inhabited the land. Over time, he manages to find out more about what happened to his father, and learns to deal with his emotions over missing him. 

Strengths: There are not a lot of books set in Minnesota, and this was certainly a nice glimpse of what like is like in a small town. The family dynamics were interesting, and I also enjoyed Phuc's story. The cover is very pretty!
Weaknesses: I wish there had been a little less about dealing with Justin's grief and that he had been more involved in something else. Even more details about Jenni or history day would have helped. 
What I really think: Will probably pass on purchase because this is very slow paced, something my students don't like. I can see it being successful as a class read aloud if a teacher is very passionate about it.
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I felt like this book was trying to cover really powerful things, which are important for middle school representation. Death, especially of parents, is an important topic for young people to read about and be able to talk about. I personally didn't love the pacing and overall flow of the book, but think it's worth reading.
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A sweet, honest story about a 7th grade boy and how he, his older brother and mom move on after the death of his dad, a Vietnam vet. Taking place at the start of the Gulf War, Justin is navigating the uncertainty around his dad's death, the war and middle school. I loved the relationship between the brothers, the look into the coping of all three and the friendship that sustain.
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DISCLAIMER: I received an e-ARC of LIKE NOTHING AMAZING EVER HAPPENED from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was outstanding. I cried about 4 times in different intervals reading this wonderful book.

CONTENT WARNING: death, loss of loved one, PTSD, alcoholism, talk of suicide, bullying

Justin doesn't know a lot of things. He doesn't know how to talk to Jenni without getting nervous, why everyone is staring at him in the halls, how his best friend is a literal genius, why Benny H. wanders around town talking to ghosts, how his mom loves church, if his brother go back to baseball, or if his favorite team will go to the playoffs. He mainly doesn't know why people pretend everything's okay when it's really not. When his father dies in a train accident, Justin doesn't know how it happened. Did his father really die in an accident, or did he kill himself?

LIKE NOTHING AMAZING EVER HAPPENED was set in the 80s (around the Gulf War). The book has lovable characters. You're gonna root for Justin, Jenni, and Phuc. Justin is in tender relationships by the end, and it's very bittersweet. Throughout the book, Justin happens to get closer to finding about the history of his family with little miracles. The plot was rather slow, but well thought out.

I can't wait to see what else Emily Blejwas comes up with!

Do I recommend this? Yes.
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I had a real hard time reading this book. I felt like the sentences were just streams of thought. Very slow. It just did not appeal to me. I was really hoping to enjoy this book.
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I really, really enjoyed this book. As a child of the early 90s I related to this a lot with the little bits the author added. However, there aren't too many so children of today won't feel like they can't relate. It is well-written, funny, sad, and thought-provoking. Watching Justin on his journey to discovery is a time hopeful and sad. He is a very relatable 12-year-old, who has typical teen problem (family, friends, school) but with the added stress of a deceased father. He does, however, have a very supportive family, which was really nice to read in a middle grade novel.
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I always take note of books that I sit down and read through in one setting since my life is chaotic enough that it doesn't happen as much as it used to! This one is one of those that I did, and at the end of it I set it to the side thoroughly satisfied. 

Set during the early 90s, Justin loses his father, and must cope in the aftermath of that including questions about how (and why) his father died, questions about war (his father was a Vietnam vet, and the story is set during the first gulf war), economic issues, and even the first beginnings of figuring out dating. 

The first thing of note about this book is that it felt incredibly emotionally authentic. Each one of the characters felt believable to me and lifelike in their interactions. The girl that Justin crushes on could border on Manic Pixie Dreamgirl from his perspective, but because that relationship isn't the focus of the book, because she isn't the one who helps 'save' him from the existentialist crisis he's going through, instead it just reads like teenager who has a crush. Instead relationships with multiple characters have import throughout the text, his closest friend, his older brother, his mother, his father, an old elementary school teacher, his friend's mother - these characters weave in and out, not necessarily huge pieces of the story, but providing moments of revelation or self-discovery for Justin, in a way that very much mirrors real life. I loved this about this book. 

I also liked some of the subplots - and the way that they also seemed to support themes of self-discovery within the book and the importance of knowing your own history. 

Generally, this is a book that covers and touches a lot of deep areas, but in a way that is hopeful and supportive, and I feel like it's an excellent contemporary literature book on this subject.
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I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
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There are events in our life which are challenging to overcome. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to lose a parent when you are in middle school. That's exactly what Justin is experiencing in this novel. But it isn't just the unexpected loss, but wondering if the parent committed suicide.

Beautifully told story with aspects of a coming of age novel. I also enjoyed the layer of learning more about your hometown, something Justin does in the novel.
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