Sunday, July 6, 2008

Waiting for Normal

By Leslie Connor

Sixth-grader, Addie’s life is complicated. Her “Mommers”, is increasingly flaky and given to get-rich schemes, long absences, and immature outbursts. Addie has dyslexia so learning is an act of will and persistence. Her father died when she was small, but her stepfather, Dwight, now divorced from her Mom, cares deeply for her and the couple’s other two natural children. The court awards him custody of the younger girls, but not of Addie because she is not her “real” Dad. As Mommers falters, he continues to support them but the only home he can purchase for them is a small trailer home parked on a city corner beneath a train overpass and across from a mini-mart. Hardly “normal”, huh?
Even here Addie attempts to “normalize” her life around meals, learning pieces on her flute, home-making, visiting her beloved “neighbors” at the convenience store. She clings to any routine she can construct and holds tight to her ability to love, even to support a sick friend. She finds great pleasure in small things like the swing Dwight hangs from the overpass, a short visit from her sisters, a warm synthetic apple pocket pie, or a slide down the mountain of dirty snow left behind by the snowplow.
I found it impossible to leave Addie until I finished. Beautifully and convincingly written in Addie’s voice, this book will force you to think about “normal,” --about what you, and all of us, really desire and find joy in. What is a normal relationship with a parent, a friend, a lover, a home, with learning, with illness, with food, with music?
Indeed, now Addie won’t leave me. She makes me think about our lives so lucky and full that we miss so much. I want to celebrate Addie’s resilient spirit and patient courage as she waits for “normal” to come to her life. When it does, you’ll want to dance.

Reviewed by Vivian

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