Waiting for Normal

Moving portrait of a neglected child.

What parents need to know

Not applicable

References to "boobs" and a gay couple. A description of a girl getting her first period.

Not applicable

Food brands mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults smoke, including a pregnant woman.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an emotional book about a girl dealing with a disturbed and neglectful mother. There is also a description of her first period.

What's the story?

Addie lives in a trailer under an elevated train track with her disturbed, neglectful, "all or nothing" mother, who often leaves her alone there for days at a time. Her beloved ex-stepfather does what he can to support them, but her visits with him are few and far between, and only when her erratic mother allows them. But as good as Addie is with coping, and as positive as she tries to be, those visits only remind her of a normalcy she can never have.

Is it any good?


This breathtakingly moving portrait of a neglected child achieves its effects in shades of gray. Addie's mother is not an evil witch and does, in fact, love Addie. Her loving stepfather does his best, but is often inept and doesn't see what his warmhearted visits are doing to Addie. Her friends and teachers all mean well, but none are able to see what is really going on, or to do anything about it. And Addie herself knows that her mother is unable to take care of her, yet does everything she can to hide that fact from those who love her and would protect her if they knew, even going so far, in one heartbreaking scene, as to fill empty food boxes with paper and put them in the cabinets so that it will look like there's plenty of food when her grandfather comes to check on her

Told in Addie's matter-of-fact voice, the story never descends to mawkishness, melodrama, or preachiness. Addie is a delightfully poignant and winning heroine, but the success of a character-centered story such as this one rests not only on the main character, but also on the supporting players, and here the author also excels. Addie's stepfather Dwight, her half-sisters, and the odd couple who run the mini mart across the street are all fully fleshed out and as vivid in the reader's mind as they are in Addie's life. This realistic look at a tough subject hits all the right notes in creating a warmhearted portrait of a child in trouble.

From the Book:
Maybe Mommers and I shouldn't have been surprised; Dwight had told us it was a trailer even before we'd packed our bags. But I had pictured one of those parks—like up on Route 50. I thought trailers were always in trailer parks. I expected a little grass patch out front, daisy-shaped pinwheels stuck into the ground, one of those white shorty fences and a garden gnome.

Dwight crossed traffic and pulled the truck up over the curb. When he stopped, Mommers' head bumped against the window. "What are we doing here?" she asked. I watched Dwight's face for the answer. Dwight is my stepfather. Well, he's really my ex-stepfather since he and Mommers split for good. That was two years ago. (It's best to know right from the beginning that my family is hard to follow—like a road that keeps taking twists and turns.) But Dwight had always told me, there'll be no "ex" between you and me, Addie, girl, and I believed him.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the concept of normal. What

  • is a normal life? Do you have one? Do you know others who have what

  • you'd consider to be a normal life? Is normal a good thing?

Book details

Author:Leslie Connor
Genre:Family Life
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:February 5, 2008
Number of pages:290
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old December 13, 2010
age 12+

This book is great for early teens and teens. NOT reccomended for youger children.

This book is wonderful!! There are some language problems and the mother smokes a lot. They do mention some product placement. I dont reccomend this book for kids 11 and under because of these issues. This book also is very sad. It kind of makes you look back at maybe some unfortunate kids/ adults that you know in a different way. :) I hope this helped. Have a blessed day!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byAthena Keene May 6, 2011
age 10+

One of the best book ive read. made me cry. will -for sure touch your heart.

Hi again (wow im so on here today). Anyway this book will forever hold a place in my heart. I feel so much for the characters and i just really loved it. I also think i loved it 'casue i can re-late. This story of a emtional, smart, brave, independant girl will touch your heart and make you stop and think for a moment about how blessed you are. How evryday is a gift and no matter how much cr@p goes on in your life- there is always another day to move on.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old May 9, 2011
age 10+

GREAT BOOK!!! limit to mature 9yo+, though.

all of the book is good... but mommers says shes pregnant w/ pete's baby, references to body parts, and mommers stays at pete's house for a 'little overnighter' and stuff like that, not extreme. I'd say its very well written, and it's easy to read, but I think only mature kids 9+ should read it.


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