Reviews for Waiting for Normal

Booklist Reviews 2008 April #1
We've seen this situation before: a parent neglects a child, while the child seeks a wider community to find support. Here that child is 12-year-old Addie, who lives with Mommers in a trailer on a busy street in Schenectady after her adored stepfather and half sisters move upstate. Mommers has lost custody of the "littles" because of neglect, and though she and Addie can laugh together, once Mommers hooks up with Pete, she is not much for good times--though she brings the bad times home. Addie finds solace in occasional visits to her sisters and in her neighbors, especially Soula, ill from her chemotherapy treatments. Connor takes a familiar plot and elevates it with smartly written characters and unexpected moments. Addie starts out being a kid who thinks she has to go along to get along, but as Mommers' actions become more egregious, her spine stiffens. And though Addie loves her time upstate, she is willing to forgo it when the normality she has there is more painful than positive. This is a meaningful story that will touch many. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #2
"Me, I'm good at getting used to things -- been doing it all my life." Twelve-year-old Addison lives in a trailer in Schenectady with her mother, never knowing how long -- a few hours, a few days, a week -- her moody, unreliable mom will be gone, off with a new boyfriend. Despite a bevy of concerned individuals (including her former stepfather Dwight; Elliot, the gay owner of the nearby mini-mart; and Elliot's best friend Soula, a cancer patient with a jovial disposition), Addie fends for herself and keeps her mother's absences a secret. Connor convincingly portrays Addie's beyond-her-years resourcefulness and the opposing feelings that drive her to protect the life she has while longing to be a permanent part of the "normal" home her half-sisters occupy with her stepfather. Occasionally the dialogue, especially between Addie and her mini-mart friends, gets folksy and sappy; but overall Addie's commonsense approach to her problems keeps the sentimentality in check. Soula's description of the hibiscus tree in a nearby barbershop window applies to Addie as well: she is "willing to bloom in conditions [she] was never meant to encounter." Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 December #2
A heroine with spunk and spirit offers an inspiring lesson in perseverance and hope. When a young girl's parents divorce, she's separated from her stepfather and her two young half-sisters. Life is far from normal as Addie and her irresponsible mother settle into a tiny trailer on the corner of an urban intersection. Addie admits, "I'm good at getting used to things--been doing it all my life," and immediately makes a cozy nest for herself in the trailer. She optimistically starts sixth grade, makes friends, meets her neighbors and keeps house on a shoestring while her unpredictable mother spends days sleeping and nights chatting on the Internet. Challenged by dyslexia, Addie works extra hard to succeed in school and learn her flute part in the orchestra. Yearning for a "normal" life, Addie's shaken when her stepfather and sisters move away leaving her on her own with her moody mother who disappears for days. Disappointed and alone, Addie realistically makes the best of a bad situation. In the end, her positive attitude and ability to find happiness make all the difference as she patiently waits for "normal." First-rate. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 February #3

Connor (Dead on Town Line ) treats the subject of child neglect with honesty and grace in this poignant story. Addie's stepfather, Dwight, has always been the responsible one in the family. But after he and her mother divorce, and he gets custody of Addie's two younger half-sisters, it's up to Addie, a sixth-grader, to keep order in the tiny trailer that Dwight has found for Addie and her mother. While her mother disappears for days at a time with her new boyfriend, Addie cultivates friendships with people she meets at a neighboring convenience store, but the affection she receives from others doesn't compensate for the absence of love in her home. Addie works hard to fill the void her volatile mother creates, and Addie's attempts to make things "normal" result in some of the most moving scenes: she keeps the cabinets full by putting empty boxes of food on the shelf "for show." In such moments Connor shows both the extent to which Addie has been abandoned and just how resilient and resourceful she is. Characters as persuasively optimistic as Addie are rare, and readers will gravitate to her. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)

[Page 155]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 February

Gr 6-8-- A story centered around loss, heartbreak, abandonment, and new beginnings. Although Dwight is no longer Addie's stepfather due to his divorce from her mother, the two still share an unbreakable bond. Dwight secures a trailer for Addie and her mother in an unremarkable part of Schenectady, NY. Mommers sleeps during the day and leaves Addie at night to pursue "business" interests with her new boyfriend. Meanwhile, Dwight has moved to Lake George with Addie's half sisters, for whom he was awarded custody. Despite the many upheavals in her young life, Addie adjusts as well as she can. She participates in the school orchestra, despite the fact that her dyslexia makes learning the music challenging. Her mother's antipathy toward Dwight doesn't prevent her from allowing Addie to visit him and her sisters during school breaks, during which she gets a taste of normalcy. However, the woman's irresponsibility, inability to tell the truth, and frequent absences, often for days at a time, put Addie in danger. Connor has created a winning and positive father-figure/daughter relationship between Dwight and Addie. She introduces serious topics such as cancer, neglect, and learning disabilities without sensationalizing or trivializing the subjects. Although Mommers is clearly an unfit parent, Connor does show believable instances of her love for her children, juxtaposed with scenes of embarrassingly childish behavior and cutting remarks.--Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

[Page 112]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2008 February
Before the divorce, life with her stepfather and half-sisters gave sixth grader Addie a glimpse of normal life. Now, though, she is stuck in a trailer in a dreary part of Schenectady, New York, with her mercurial and unreliable mother. Resilient Addie, however, makes the most of every situation. She befriends the owner of a nearby minimart, plays flute at school, and makes the trailer a home. Although yearning to belong to her stepfather's new family-which she visits-Addie tries to keep believing her mother's promises of prosperity, and to keep "Mommers's" prolonged absences a secret. When a disaster reveals her abandonment, though, Addie discovers many heroes eager to help her out-and maybe, at last, to get her the normal life she craves. This novel is all about character, and Addie's shines. She personifies loyalty, optimism, hard work, pragmatism, and courage. Like such beloved heroines as Sara Crewe, Polly Pepper, and Little Orphan Annie, Addie effortlessly finds the positive in life, without denying its bleak realities, and earns true friends who catch her when she falls. The other characters-especially the vibrant, self-obsessed Mommers; the bighearted, cancer-ridden minimart owner; and the loving stepfather-are engagingly multilayered as well. There are no villains here, just real people. The book's only flaws are that Mommers's activities are kept too secret, building an unfulfilled sense of mystery, and that the story spreads out over too long a time period, slowing its momentum. Try with fans of the well-deserved happy ending.-Rebecca C. Moore PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-089089-6. 4Q 3P M Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.