Book Review: Waiting for Normal

A sweet story of enduring hardships and crazy family with endless optimism. Little Addie has apparently hit bottom: her flake’s-flake of a mother lost everything in the divorce except Addie. They now live in a junky trailer underneath a train overpass in Schnectady. Mommers surfs the Web all day, relies on Addie for cooking and cleaning, and takes off whenever she feels like it. Addie misses her responsible, loving ex-stepfather and his two daughters. Will Addie be able to find “normal” again? Connors’ portrait of a quiet, resilient girl who manages to endure a parent’s neglect is bleak, but it manages to be funny and heartwarming as well.

This book has a lot going for it: Addie is the quintessential cock-eyed optimist, but she never comes off as cloying or goody-goody. She’s just sweet and loveable; the quietish kid you liked sitting next to in the lunchroom. It’s refreshing to see a book with good fathering — Dwight the ex-step is rock-solid, but believable. You can see he’s a good guy, but he’s also flawed just enough to make it plausible that he ever hooked up with Mommers in the first place.

If there are any complaints to be had, it’s with the plot. This thing is darn predictable. What’s that? Mommers says she’s definitely going to be at Addie’s Christmas concert? And then she ruins the whole thing? No surprises there. Soula the eccentric minimart owner belts out a cough in an early chapter, and it is later revealed that she has terminal cancer. Not that shocking. But I’m betting that most kids picking up this book won’t be nearly as jaded as I am, so just ignore my patter and fire up this puppy for one tear-jerker of a read.
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