Wednesday, September 3, 2008

47. Waiting for Normal - Leslie Connor

For: Middle Grades
Pub: 2008
290 pgs.
Rating: 5/5
Read: Sept. 3, 2008 (Happy Birthday, Gail!)
"Pollyanna for the 21st Century" OR "a modern-day survival story"

Oh. My. I just finished The Rules of Survival. Now this. So similar. Mothers who should not be mothers. What is the definition of mother? Addie would figure that out, using Websters and her great dyslexic brain, and add it to the vocabulary book that she keeps. She wishes she had the "Love of Learning" like her mother and younger sister. But because she has reading and spatial problems, she thinks this can never be.

Addie's "Mommers" (this was, for some reason, a very irritating name for me) is, I'm sure, bipolar. It's all or nothing. Totally all or absolutely nothing. She's had two husbands, three children, and before the story is over will have lost them all, but have another kid on the way. Dwight, the stepfather that has raised Addie as his own, is not able to take custody of her when he divorces her mother, although he does take the two "Littles." He takes Addie and her Mom to live in the only place he has, an old, tiny trailer on a busy street corner in the city of Schenectedy, NY. He takes the two Littles and goes to reconstruct an inn in nearby Vermont.

Mommers meets up with a man and spends more and more time with him, leaving 12-year-old Addie alone in the trailer. Addie makes close friends with the people who own the mini-mart across the street (one dying of cancer, the other gay). She learns to love to play the flute, and takes great care of her hamster, Picolo. Things get worse and worse until she unwittingly, while alone for an extended period, burns down the trailer.

This IS a very predictable book. But it's predictable in a good way, I think kids need more happy endings. Connors has included a little bit of everything in the story, major timely issues. But instead of being TOO much, everything she brings up touches all of our lives....a little cancer....friends or family members who are gay, or struggle with a mental disorder, or have very little money...sad people, happy people, neglected people, all or nothing people.....Snow storms and broken-cars and feeling helpless and alone.....

One review I read said that this book is a great example of "showing, not tellling." Exactly! Beautifuly writing. A smart, witty protagonist. A plot that keeps you hooked. A great read. If only I hadn't needed tissues!

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