Title: Waiting for Normal
Author: Leslie Connor (link)
Genre: Contemporary Upper MG
Pub Date: Feb 2008
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Addie's life is changing. Her ex-step father, Dwight, has done all he can, but he’s been forced to leave Addie and Mommers to live in a trailer when he finds a job upstate. Mommers has an all-or-nothing approach to life: a food fiesta or an empty pantry, her way or no way. All-or-nothing never adds up to normal. Now Addie is heartbroken to be separated from her younger half sisters, but she puts up a brave front while she quietly craves for a home where she can count on what’s going to happen next.
I'm kicking off my first Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post with one of the best children's books I read last year. Waiting for Normal actually made me cry - and I'm really not a weepy person. The story builds up in a natural, lovely way, introducing issues of class, puberty, learning disabilities, and coping with death through great storytelling. The book isn't overly serious. Kids will laugh at the lighter moments and won't feel like they are being preached to despite some of the life lessons sprinkled throughout the story.
Best Character: Mommers, hands down. Addie's mother jumps off the page more than any other character in the book. And not because she's likeable, either. This woman is something straight from The Jerry Springer Show. High-five to Connor for creating such a complex villain.
What You'll Love About Addie: The story is told in first person, so all the scenes are filtered through Addie's lens. It's hard not to adore how humble, forgiving, and sweet she is, because she doesn't come off like a twit or a perfect angel. She lets the bad stuff slide off her back like her shirts are made of Teflon, which makes you want to stick with her through the story.
Accolades: New York Public Library’s "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing", School Library Journal Best Book, ALA Notable Children’s Book, ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults, The Schneider Family Book Award, Texas Lone Star Reading List, Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice, 2009 Connecticut Book Award
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