Friday, May 30, 2008

Waiting For Normal by Leslie Connor

I knew from the publisher's one sentence summary that this novel would be sad/depressing. Since becoming a mom, I have a particularly hard time with stories of child abuse or neglect, but I repeatedly heard such great things about this book that I had to pick it up, and I'm very glad that I did!

Sixth-grader Addie and her mom, Denise, are left in dire circumstances after Denise failed to make her mortgage payments with the money her Ex gave her and lost custody of Addie's two half-sisters. Ex-husband Dwight has the little girls and wants nothing to do with Denise, but offers up a trailer home he has parked downtown so that Addie (who is not his daughter) will still have a place to call home. He has his reservations about leaving Addie alone with her mom, but is left with no choice because he is not Addie's blood relation and he has no claim to custody. While Addie struggles to keep track of her mom, make new friends, and overcome her learning disabilities, Dwight and the little girls find a new family and a welcoming home.

See, sounds depressing, huh? But oddly enough, Addie carries an optimism that keeps the reader hopeful. Her mom is terribly neglectful, but Addie still has a network of people who love her and watch out for her. The book covers some heavy issues; that abuse isn't always physical, that kids shouldn't be the ones responsible for taking care of their parents, that having a learning disability doesn't mean you're not smart, and that sickness can be mental, not just physical. Yet somehow the story isn't too depressing. It has it's heartbreaking moments, but I was still able to close it with a smile.

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