57 pages 1 hour read

Sharon Creech

Absolutely Normal Chaos

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1990

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Character Analysis

Mary Lou Finney

The novel’s protagonist and first-person narrator, Mary Lou Finney is the second oldest child of five. Mary Lou is dutiful and eager to please. For that reason, she is overlooked by her parents, as she performs the chores that her older sister Maggie shirks. Mary Lou’s feelings of uncertainty, with regard to her identity and her sense of belonging, are exacerbated with Carl Ray’s arrival, as her mother forces her into the ancillary role of waiting around on him.

Mary Lou’s idea of “a great ole lazy summer” (1), is also upended by her best friend Beth Ann’s sudden obsession with dating and boys. As Beth Ann shows an increasing resemblance to boy-crazy Christy, Mary Lou is forced to consider that by her peers’ standards, she is not cool. She is the type of person who asks too many questions about assignments and who approaches the summer reading list with a measure of enthusiasm. Although Mary Lou still enjoys childish pursuits such as climbing trees and playing with her brother, she is not quite a child anymore, as things that previously made her happy such as summer holidays and fireworks do not have the same effect. Moreover, she is consumed by her crush on Alex.