Parents' Guide to

Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey

By Joly Herman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Inspiring, graphic story of boy with facial differences.

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This is a fascinating and graphic memoir of a family's struggle to live with a child's severe craniofacial impairments. Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey is really two stories -- Nathaniel's almost impish account of his life to date, and a survival story told by his mother, Magda. There are flashbacks to her childhood in Poland and also her struggle with cancer. These sidelines are interesting, but they aren't always relevant to Nathaniel's story or his personal experience.

One of the things that makes Nathaniel's story incredible is his ability to accept his situation for what it is. He speaks about not knowing anything other than life as he's lived it. His mother's narrative serves to show how much labor has gone into raising a child with severe challenges. Her point of view is graphically detailed. She's brutally honest with herself and challenges those who don't show compassion. Whether her side of the story is really compelling to kids is questionable. But as real-life superheroes go, Nathaniel has definitely earned his status.

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