Review: Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): How I Go by Yellowcard.

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Waiting For Normal by Leslie Connor
Published: February 5, 2008
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 304
Current Amazon Rank: #315,602

Author's Website: Leslie Connor
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

Maybe Mommers and I shouldn't have been surprised; Dwight had told us it was a trailer even before we'd packed our bags.

My Take:

Waiting for Normal is one of those wonderfully rare books that wrenches your heart and fills you with hope (and courage) at the same time. And so much of it has to do with the main character, Addie.

Life's not been easy for her. When Addie's parents divorce, she is separated from her step-father and younger half-sisters. Dwight is unable to get custody for her because he is not her biological father. Life is as far from normal as it can get when she and her mother move into a cramped, yellow trailer underneath a highway overpass. But with her unconquerable spirit, Addie makes the best of it. She practices her flute, struggles with a reading disorder, and makes friends with the people who frequent the convenience store across the street while trying to create a safe haven for herself and her rather unpredictable, "all-or-nothing" mother who often disappears, sometimes for days at a time. Yet she finds happiness whereever she is while "waiting for normal" to come.

Addie's voice is vivid from the first page. It sucked me in and didn't let me go. I felt like I was still holding my breath even after I'd read past the final word. This book takes you for a turn and then some, but never drags you down. The author handles the very weighty and difficult subject matters of divorce, bi-polar disorder, child neglect and others with such grace and poignancy she makes it look easy. Addie's ingenuity and heart surge this story along into something sincerely uplifting, even as your heart breaks for her. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed and loved this story. It felt unique and utterly familiar, diverging from the common tropes it could have been peppered with in less capable hands. I loved it for its hope and reality that made that hope all the more potent. It felt real.

The Final Word:

So good. An utterly enthralling story about a young girl's indomitable spirit, filled with hope and poignancy. Powerful and beautiful, this is a first-rate read.