I wonder why I am drawn to books like Waiting for Normal. Addie is living such a dysfunctional life and while there are adults on her side much of what she has to endure is done alone and without support. I remember reading a powerful book about life in mid west America when I was a young teenager called Addie Pray by Joe David Brown (the movie was called Paper Moon) and I think ever since I have enjoyed books in this genre.
Addie reminded me of Opal in Because of Winn Dixie, Mibs in Savvy and Anna in Sarah Plain and Tall.
What is normal? I guess it is something different for all of us but certainly the life Addie is living is far from normal. Her dad left when she was a baby and Mummers latest relationship has ended in heartbreak. The two small girls (half sisters to Addie) have been left with their father and Addie and Mummers move into a run down trailer right under a railway line with only a gas station/general store for company. Dwight, Addie’s step dad, does try to keep an eye on Addie and he makes regular maintenance payments but he has issues of his own and new relationships to nurture.
Addie does have some special strengths. She is a musician and finds solace in her flute, she is careful with money and can cook enough food from cheap ingredients to survive and Addie is a faithful friend. Soula and Elliot who run the gas station become true friends offering a safe haven to Addie when her Mummers once again takes off for days at a time but Soula and Elliot have their own sadness to contend with.
This is a book filled with heartache. I think it is true we read to know we are not alone and also we read to understand the lives of others. I absolutely loved Waiting for Normal but I know it is not a book everyone will enjoy. I will recommend this book to sensitive senior Primary girls. The story is incredibly sad and the life Addie is experiencing is harrowing although there is real hope at the end. I totally agree with the School Library Journal reviewer who said this is “a story centered around loss, heartbreak, abandonment, and new beginnings.”