Reviews for Oddly Normal : One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms With His Sexuality

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
A family's memoir of raising a gay son. New York Times national correspondent Schwartz (Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall At All, 2010) enlightens readers on the difficulties he and his wife faced while trying to help their son, Joe, accept his homosexuality. From a very early age, Schwartz and his wife suspected Joe might be gay, noting some telltale signs: the desire to play with Barbie dolls, the need for a pink feather boa and pink light-up shoes, the love of glitter and costume jewelry and the lack of interest in sports. However, because they had raised all three of their children in a gender-neutral environment, with dolls, action figures and trucks available to both their older son and daughter, they simply assumed Joe was just different. When Joe started school, though, behavioral problems developed. Because he was an avid reader at an early age, his parents suspected boredom; Joe's teachers suspected mental issues and suggested therapy. Numerous therapists later, with diagnoses that included ADHD, autism and Asperger's, Schwartz and his family were still no closer to understanding what made Joe different from his siblings and peers--and no one suggested homosexuality as a possible explanation for Joe's mood swings, anger and sullenness. Thanks to Internet research, the coming-out of TV personalities and new acceptance and legislation for homosexuals, the author was able to provide Joe with a safe home environment for him to reveal his "secret." It was only when Joe divulged his natural tendencies at school that disaster struck in the form of rejection, resulting in a life-altering situation for the entire family. Definitely defined as "not a self-help book," Schwartz's frank discussion of a subject many still find taboo will be helpful to parents of LGBT children as one example of how to accept a natural condition with dignity and love. An added bonus is the delightful story written and illustrated by Joe. An honest, earnest, straightforward account of one boy's coming out. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 June #2

A national correspondent with the New York Times, Schwartz faced a terrible tragedy three years ago when his 13-year-old son attempted suicide after coming out to his classmates. Frustrated by the school's inability to help a student who didn't fit the mold, he and his wife sought out organizations that could help Joe realize that he wasn't alone or freakish. Here's an account of their experiences, clearly as much a parental guide as a memoir.

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Library Journal Reviews 2014 March #1

New York Times correspondent Schwartz's memoir begins with his son Joe's suicide attempt after coming out at school. He traces his son's development as a "different" child and relates how he made sure Joe got the help he needed. A bonus: Joe's own charmingly illustrated story. (LJ 6/15/12)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #1

In this moving account of a family's journey to raise and protect their gay son, New York Times correspondent Schwartz begins with his son Joe's suicide attempt, discovering afterwards that his son had come out to his classmates that afternoon. Joe's parents had always suspected the youngest of their three children might be gay, playing with dolls and wearing pink lightup shoes, but he had only coyly revealed his sexuality to his parents a week before his suicide attempt. With an unusual condition therapists variously diagnosed over the years as Asperger's, bi-polar, ADHD, among others, school was always a challenge for Joe. With the growing awareness of his sexuality, however, came increasing sensitivity to fellow students' homophobic slurs and taunts, as well as a growing realization that he was "different" and even that there was something possibly wrong with him. Schwartz recounts in sometimes painful detail his and his wife's difficulties in getting Joe the help he so desperately needed, from working with school officials on appropriate ways of dealing with Joe when his condition overwhelmed him, to joining the Youth Enrichment Services at the Gay Center. With the new support, Joe thrived. Equally humorous and heartrending, this memoir reveals just what it takes to raise children who are different in a world still resistant. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn. (Nov.)

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