Waiting for NormalTitle: Waiting for Normal
Author: Leslie Connor
ISBN: 9780060890889
Pages: 290 pages
Publisher/Date: Katherine Tegen Books, c2008.

Maybe Mommers and I shouldn’t have been surprised; Dwight had told us it was a trailer even before we’d packed our bags. But I had pictured one of those parks–like up on Route 50. I thought trailers were always in trailer parks. I expected a little grass patch out front, daisy-shaped pinwheels stuck into the ground, one of those white shorty fences and a garden gnome. […]
I stood next to Mommers, both of us looking at the trailer. The thing was dingy and faded. But I could tell that it’d once been the color of sunshine. It was plunked down on a few stacks of cinder blocks at the corner of Freeman’s Bridge Road and Nott Street in the city of Schenectady–in the state of New York. It was a busy corner–medium busy, I’d say. The only patch out our front was the tarry blacktop bubbling up in the heat of the late summer afternoon. No pinwheels. No garden gnome. (1-5)

Twelve year old Addison “Addie” Schmeeter has just moved into a trailer with her mom. Her mom has just gotten divorced from the best step-dad she could ever have asked for, and he’s taken her two half-sisters with him after his mom left the three of them for a few days to fend for themselves. Addie hopes things are improving when her mom becomes excited about a new job and Addie begins a new school year. But the second half of her family has moved farther away, preventing her from seeing them except for holidays. Her mom though, keeps disappearing — first for a few hours, then for a night, then for a whole day. When Addie’s mom drops a bombshell of news, things take a turn for the worst and the bad spreads like fire. Leslie Connor portrays the story of a girl whose Waiting for Normal and on a search to define it.

The cover reminds me of a cross between the movie posters of Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning, neither of which I’ve seen so I don’t know how the plots compare. I actually liked this book because it provides an inside look at abandonment. Addie knows that her mother isn’t the best mother in the world, and she struggles with accepting her mothers shortcomings and comparing their family to her half-sisters situation. However, it’s difficult to imagine that the courts would remove the younger two girls but allow the older one to stay in the same environment. Addie’s resiliance is what impresses me most, whether it’s trying to make sense of her mother or standing up to her step-father and grandfather, she’s slowly piecing her life together, and Connor brings together all the facets that come with it. The ending is perfect, because it doesn’t make Addie choose, although some readers might wonder what the outcome would have been if Addie had been given that choice. A wonderful read.

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