Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Middle-Grade Fiction Review: Waiting For Normal

In Waiting For Normal by Leslie Connor, twelve-year old Addison (Addie) wants nothing more or less than a normal life with a normal family, but that dream seems far away right now. Addie’s father died long ago, and her mother and stepfather have recently split up. Her stepfather, Dwight, got custody of her two little sisters, but Addie ended up with her very distracted and unreliable mother, with little means of support for the two of them. Dwight has given them a trailer to live in in downtown Schenectady and sends them monthly support checks; it’s not ideal, but it’s the best he can do for now.

Despite her scrappy home and reliance on toast dinners, Addie is at heart full of hope and optimism, always trying to see the good in those around her. She makes some new friends, both at school and near her home, and tries to make the best of things.

What she really yearns for, though is normal:

“I just want…normal,” I said.
“What’s normal?” Mommers squinted at me. “Things are always changing. I mean, how does anyone know if they’ve got normal?”
I thought for a second. “I’ve felt close to it before,” I said. “Normal….is when you know what’s gonna happen next. Not exactly what, because probably nobody gets that. But normal is being able to count on certain things. Good things. And it’s having everyone together – just because they belong that way.” I realized I was making a circle with my hands as if I was holding onto a tiny world. “I keep waiting for it to happen to us,” I told Mommers. “But we – we never seem to get all the way to normal.”

Addie is an endearing narrator who tells her story with warmth and humor. Although her life is at times bleak, she always manages to find joy in it and never loses hope for a better tomorrow.

I listened to the audio version of the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a little bothered at first by the slight southern sound to Addie’s voice – after all, she’s supposed to be from my own home state of New York – but I quickly got over that minor point because the young actress does a wonderful job of portraying Addie. Driving in my car down the New Jersey Turnpike, I found myself both laughing out loud and crying real tears. At one point, I was crying so hard, I almost went off the road trying to find the box of Kleenex! Keep it close for this wonderful, ultimately uplifting story.

Audio download also available.


NathanKP said...

I just reviewed this book on my own blog, so its nice to read your review of it as well.

Very nice blog. One thing that I would suggest is that you use cover art from the books you review. Its such a simple thing but it adds a lot to your posts.


Angie said...

Great review Sue. And sorry it took me so long to come and check out your review. I'm a negligent blogger when it comes to that sort of thing.