Normal. We all have an ideal vision of a "normal" person or of living a "normal life"--but, so many struggle to achieve that "normal" existence. While some prefer to live outside that "normal" zone--others with medical needs struggle desperately to achieve it. We were excited to host a review for Searching for Normal, by author Alison Neuman--a woman continually adapting to her new normal.
Quick Summary of Searching for Normal. Searching for Normal is a book about following in the great tradition of creative nonfiction. Detailing her personal experience from the onset of a rare and painful illness at the age of three, Alison Neuman recounts her personal journey coming to terms with an ever-shifting conception of 'normality'. The disease having shaped her life in ways most could never imagine, a carefree childhood quickly morphed into a blur of ongoing hospitalizations, increasingly reduced mobility, and overwhelming fatigue and pain. But amidst her constant battles with her health, Alison emerged as a champion. Searching for Normal will leave readers awed by Alison's perseverance and strength of character. Her story serves as a pertinent reminder that 'normal', is in the eye of the beholder.
Searching for Normal is a very well written memoir. Neuman writes a memory filled, flowing, yet orderly, memoir. So often, memoirs meander and wander with hit-and-skip memories from throughout the author's life. Neuman keeps the book easy to follow and easy to read with mostly chronological events from her early memories to the present.
Searching for Normal is an emotional story. Searching for Normal offers an insight into chronic illness--and its emotional tolls--that many may never see. Neuman's medical condition impacted her entire family and the way that they not only endured, but prevailed, is inspiring to those facing similar situations. It's also eye opening to those healthy, "normal" individuals living "normal" lives along with those less physically able. Neuman highlights the many struggles of her personal state of less-than-normal--but, does so with a strength and resolve that both educates and inspires. Neuman faced struggles with nearly every aspect of life that so many of us take for granted. Yet, she didn't bow under the pressure--she pressed on...and on.
Would we recommend Searching for Normal by Alison Neuman? If you read one memoir this year, I think it should be this one. Many of us struggle to achieve a so-called "normal"--and waste our lives searching for it. The author's story may just inspire you to embrace that less-than-normal life.
Meet the author
Alison Neuman lives in Alberta, Canada, where she works as a freelance writer. Nearing the end of her studies at Grant MacEwan College, she was inspired to complete the first draft of Ice Rose: A Young Adult Spy Novel. The YA novel integrates her love for gadgetry with the broad imaginative license afforded by the secret agent genre, and features a female protagonist in a wheelchair. It was published in 2010 by Fireside Publications. Alison’s work has appeared in MacEwan Today, Westword, and the Edmonton Journal as well as on three tracks of the CD release, Outside The Window, and as a credit on the script for Cheryl Kaye Tardif's screenplay adaptation of Whale Song. She was also an "Edmonton Stories' top-ten finalist, a winner in the "Expressions of Hunger" in the Emotional Poetry Category (2009), and a nominee for the Northlands Award for Emerging Artist (2012), Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award, and Avenue’s "Top 40 Under 40."
Alison was also honoured in 2011 for her human rights work in advocating for the rights of the disabled. One of her greatest achievements is an integrative camp she started for children from all walks of life—both with and without disabilities. Camp Mission Access uses a secret agent theme and activities as children of all abilities complete mission activities. Since 2010, she has been a member of iDANCE Edmonton, performing regularly. A musical version of Searching for Normal, will debut at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in August 2013. Alison is currently working towards her Master of Arts at Athabasca University and, when time permits, completing her next YA novel.