Far From Normal

( 3 )

Overview


A boy and his family find out whether fame and fortune are all they're cracked up to be in this sequel to DELIVER US FROM NORMAL.

When we last left Charles Harrisong and his family, they were drifting in a houseboat off the coast of Alabama. But their direction shifts abruptly when Charles's book about their decision to leave Normal, IL, gets made into a major motion picture, catapulting the Harrisongs to instant fame. And when the superstore Bargain Bonanza debuts a clothing ...

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Overview


A boy and his family find out whether fame and fortune are all they're cracked up to be in this sequel to DELIVER US FROM NORMAL.

When we last left Charles Harrisong and his family, they were drifting in a houseboat off the coast of Alabama. But their direction shifts abruptly when Charles's book about their decision to leave Normal, IL, gets made into a major motion picture, catapulting the Harrisongs to instant fame. And when the superstore Bargain Bonanza debuts a clothing line based on the family called Normalwear, Charles and his family's lives go from their not-so-normal houseboat to a penthouse apartment and their own reality TV show.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
The Harrisong family from Klise's previous novel, Deliver Us From Normal, returns with another wild adventure. They left the heartland of Illinois for the shores of Alabama and through protagonist Charles's love of writing end up defending themselves against a libel lawsuit brought about by Bargain Bonanza, Inc. Charles tells the story of his family's claim to fame and meteoric rise into popular culture. Through a seeming misunderstanding, the family finds themselves the "spokesfamily" for Bargain Bonanza, a cheap mega-superstore chain. On one hand it provides them with a fancy roof over their heads and all the Bonanza bucks they could want. But it also requires them to make commercials for the store giant, no matter how farfetched and humiliating, as when Charles films the commercial for the "Gotta Go" laxative. The family soon feels the constraints of having their lives defined by the marketing department of Bargain Bonanza. A movie of their lives proves to be one manipulation too many, but their contractual obligations are iron clad and Bargain Bonanza proves to be an Orwellian "big brother." It takes some creative planning and Oscar-worthy acting on the part of the family to be released, legally and physically, from their lives in the spotlight. Even though that part of the novel goes a bit over the top, the story is witty and clever even while the characters are innocent and clueless. In a world where commercialism rules, the Harrisongs remind readers what is really important—honesty, integrity and the loyalty of family.
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Living in Normal, Illinois, the seven members of the Harrisong family lead fairly typical lives. Sure, the facts that they have been periodically homeschooled and their parents' lifestyle is a tad unusual are true, but, on the whole, they lead normal lives. All of that was to change when Ben Harrisong, a fourteen-year-old with a bent for creative writing, had an article published dealing with life in Normal. Mixed into Ben's manuscript were critical comments about Bargain Bonanza, a Walmart-like retail corporation. The next thing you know high-powered corporate lawyers representing Bargain Bonanza are confronting the Harrisongs with a multi-million dollar libel suit. Faced with fiscal disaster, the Harrisongs agree to become spokespeople for Bargain Bonanza and quickly find that not only are they famous but they are also prisoners in a world of materialism and shoddy greed. But how can they evade their contractual responsibilities to Bargain Bonanza without ruining themselves? In the end, Ben and the other Harrisongs must confront not only their personal dilemmas but also the role that the pursuit of fame can play in people's lives. Written with an eye for the nature of corporate imaging, this novel combines a witty perspective with frustrating turns of events that will leave readers wondering about the world that we live in. Far From Normal is a novel that will entertain its readers while also making them think about the commercials and other ploys that corporations use to shape the way people think.
VOYA - Anita Beaman
The abnormal Harrisongs are back in this sequel to Deliver Us from Normal (Scholastic, 2005/VOYA August 2005). Narrator Charles Harrisong is now fourteen, and his family has been living on the S.S. O'Migosh for three years. Charles has left behind his "Most Embarrassing Things in [His] Life" list, and much of his angst over what others think of him and his family is in the past. Despite Charles's growing maturity, the Harrisongs' current crisis is his fault. Thanks to Charles's desire to be a writer, the Harrisongs have become the poster family for Bargain Bonanza's new line of merchandise-NormalWare. Virtually held prisoner in the Bargain Bonanza headquarters, this conservative family is put to the test by the immoral and dishonest business practices of the Bargain Bonanza Corporation. Feeling responsible for his family's insufferable situation, Charles is forced to take things into his own hands and plan their escape from Bargain Bonanza incarceration. Readers who enjoyed the first book will want to read the further adventures of the Harrisong family, far-fetched as they may be. The family's escapades are improbable and over-the-top, and the Harrisong youth still seem to be taking care of their hapless parents-but again, Mom and Dad do come through in the end. This book is a sound purchase for most libraries, especially where the first Harrisong book is popular.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-In this sequel to Deliver Us from Normal (Scholastic, 2005), the Harrisongs continue their financial and domestic struggles. Charles, 14, writes an article about his family that gets published in a magazine through chance connections. He then gets sued by Bargain Bonanza, a discount conglomerate, for defamation. As a result of the legal battle, the Harrisongs find themselves as spokesfamily for the company. They are moved to a posh condo in Dallas and are made into a living, breathing corporate brand. As their exploitation reaches intolerable levels, Charles and his sister Clara hatch a plan to save the family. The whole thing backfires when they find out that the apartment is bugged, they are prisoners in their home, and Charles is questioned about an alleged murder plot. In a far-fetched ending, they escape. Unfortunately, Charles suffers from an unconvincing duality of perspective. He is both wise beyond his years and naive enough to believe that adults are not infallible. Several of the siblings are underdeveloped. Charles and Clara bear an overwhelming sense of responsibility for the whole family. The children even go so far as to pay back taxes for their clueless parents. The fast-paced setting of behind-the-scenes, consumer-driven celeb reality may hold interest for some, but for stories with a more engaging family dynamic, turn to Hilary McKay. Purchase only for fans of the first book.-Rebecca Stine, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Life takes the closely knit Harrisong clan, first introduced in Deliver Us From Normal (2005), about as far from "normal" as it's possible to get in this wild sequel set three years later. Glum teenage narrator Charles realizes a dream when he sells an article about his family's earlier experiences to a magazine. However, the dream turns nightmarish when lawyers descend, first threatening to sue over his disparaging picture of the Bargain Bonanza chain store, then suddenly changing their tune and railroading the panicked Harrisongs into agreeing to front a new line of NormalWear and other shoddy products. Instant sensations, the junky goods propel the Harrisongs into international celebrity, whisking them from their rickety houseboat, the S.S. O'Migosh, to a penthouse condo and a whirl of limos and photo shoots. It all looks glamorous at first, but the Harrisongs soon discover a seamier side to contract slavery. Complicated by suddenly locked doors and trumped-up accusations of child abuse, they contrive a baroque, unlikely but satisfyingly successful escape. Readers will be pleased to see this simple, loving family weather the perils of almost comically exaggerated success to land on its feet. (Fiction. 11-13)
From the Publisher

Kikrus
Life takes the closely knit Harrisong clan, first introduced in Deliver Us From Normal (2005), about as far from “normal” as it's possible to get in this wild sequel set three years later. Glum teenage narrator
Charles realizes a dream when he sells an article about his family's earlier experiences to a magazine.
However, the dream turns nightmarish when lawyers descend, first threatening to sue over his disparaging picture of the Bargain Bonanza chain store, then suddenly changing their tune and railroading the panicked Harrisongs into agreeing to front a new line of NormalWear and other shoddy products. Instant sensations, the junky goods propel the Harrisongs into international celebrity, whisking them from their rickety houseboat, the S.S. O'Migosh, to a penthouse condo and a whirl of limos and photo shoots. It all looks glamorous at first, but the Harrisongs soon discover a seamier side to contract slavery. Complicated by suddenly locked doors and trumped-up accusations of child abuse, they contrive a baroque, unlikely but satisfyingly successful escape. Readers will be pleased to see this simple, loving family weather the perils of almost comically exaggerated success to land on its feet. (Fiction. 11-13)

HB
At the end of the first novel about Charles and his family (Deliver Us from Normal, rev. 7/05), the Harrisongs move to a decrepit houseboat; this sequel picks up two years later. Through an article Charles writes about their experience living on the boat, the Walmart-esque Bargain Bonanza chain blackmails the family into becoming their spokesfamily. The Harrisongs move into a penthouse supplied with all Bargain Bonanza items, from clothing to food, and are paid in Bargain Buckeroos. As the their fame increases, so does the stress on each family member, but for sensitive fourteen-year-old Charles the humiliation is especially exquisite, as he is the spokesman for Cowboy Chaz laxatives. In Charles's agonized yet very funny narration, Kline displays again both her grasp of family relationships and her sharp wit, particularly in creating the tension between the Harrisongs' life of luxury (with limo rides and drawers full of cash) and its underlying worthlessness (since they are living in servitude, and the cash has a picture of Cowboy Cal in the middle). The fast-moving plot is entertaining but may also prompt some serious discussion. S.D.L.

Booklist
In this quirky sequel to Deliver Us From Normal (2005), precocious 14-year-old Charles Harrisong sells an article to a national magazine describing his working class family's flight from Normal, Illinois, to escape small-town prejudice and live an atypical life aboard a houseboat. The article comes under the scrutiny of superstore Bargain Bonanza, which threatens to sue because of Charles has maligned its clothing in print. The chain agrees to drop the issue if the Harrisongs will promote their new “Normal” brand of sportswear, power tools, and laxatives. Though they are given a rent-free Dallas penthouse and all the “Bonanza Bucks” they can spend, the Harrisongs are unhappy, and they quickly hatch a daring plan to escape the reality television show that has become their life. Riffing on commercialism and the cult of celebrity, Klise's narrative often feels contrived and over the top, but middle-school students who enjoyed the first novel will appreciate this sequel, with an offbeat humor reminiscent of Gordon Korman and David Lubar. –Jennifer Hubert

SLJ
–In this sequel to Deliver Us from Normal (Scholastic, 2005), the Harrisongs continue their financial and domestic struggles. Charles, 14, writes an article about his family that gets published in a magazine through chance connections. He then gets sued by Bargain Bonanza, a discount conglomerate, for defamation. As a result of the legal ba

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439794480
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 571,886
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Kate Klise's previous books, created with her sister, illustrator M. Sarah Klise, have won numerous awards, including the California Young Readers Medal. Deliver Us From Normal, the touching story about an eleven-year-old boy growing up in family that to him feels anything but normal, is her first solo novel and a departure from the more whimsical graphic novels she creates with her sister.

Deliver Us From Normal came about because Kate wanted to write a more serious novel about a big, “beautifully chaotic” family. “The older I get, the more I appreciate the idea of being thrown together with a group of people you might have a lot in common with, or nothing at all,” she says. “You don't have the option of doing anything other than making your family relationships work–forever. I like that. I like that there's no love as fierce as the love you feel for your family; that there's no one you feel more protective of than the very same people who can drive you crazy.”

Kate chose a male narrator because she felt it freed her to be more emotionally honest. “Writing from Charles's point-of-view made it clear from the beginning that while this is a very personal story, it isn't only my story,” she says. “I hope it touches on something more universal: the idea of growing up and finding your own personal truth in the world.”

In addition to writing books for young readers, Kate also works as a correspondent for People magazine. Her recent assignments have included stories about Brad Pitt, Nelly, and the BTK serial killer in Wichita.

Kate Klise lives and writes on her 40-acre farm in a valley just north of Norwood, Missouri.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Mechele R. Dillard for TeensReadToo.com

    Fourteen-year-old Charles Harrisong cannot understand why God hates him, but he knows that He does: "How could You abandon me and my family like this. Never mind. Don't answer that. I already know. It's because You hate me. Amen" (p. 217). All of the praying and begging and promising he has done over the years has gotten him nowhere. Rather, it has gotten him everywhere he doesn't want to be: far from normal. "My family," he muses. "We were turning into a vaudeville act" (p. 234). <BR/><BR/>Klise's story is confusing at times, and the motivation for the family to run from their previous home in Normal, Illinois, and live on a houseboat--the rickety S. S. O'Migosh--just doesn't make sense, even with the knowledge that there is an earlier book, DELIVER US FROM NORMAL, dedicated to the explanation of the situation. The family had been labeled "poor white trash," so they snuck out of town in the middle of the night, like criminals, and headed for Alabama and a life on the water? Mmmmmm, okay, I guess. <BR/><BR/>Leaving the original story behind, the depiction of the Harrisongs as they unwillingly and unknowingly become prisoners of megastore Bargain Bonanza is an interesting metaphor for society today. Yes, it's true, we are all caught in the net of one "superstore" or another, whether we wish to be or not, and, yes, the little man has become completely helpless in the shadow of the wealth and power driving humanity today. We are all captives of the "superstore," and there is little we can do to free ourselves at this point, as most of us don't even realize we are prisoners. <BR/><BR/>My concern with FAR FROM NORMAL, ultimately, is not the improbability of some of the situations or the confusing twists and timelines, but that the underlying message may be missed by the audience, especially younger readers. Few teens are reading Hegel, after all, and the use of his words to inspire Charles seems odd to me: Is this scenario a case of "right against right" (p. 118)? <BR/><BR/>Still, Klise's words have the potential to make a reader puzzle, think, consider, question, search, and discover, and, as these are goals of good young adult literature, I believe FAR FROM NORMAL to be a positive addition to any reading list.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2007

    Love this Book!!

    This one of best books i have ever read.I recommend this book to anyone who likes a story of a family that has trials of getting out of the lime life ands realizes how important it is to stick together when it gets rough.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    Fourteen-year-old Charles Harrisong cannot understand why God hates him, but he knows that He does: 'How could You abandon me and my family like this. Never mind. Don't answer that. I already know. It's because You hate me. Amen' (p. 217). All of the praying and begging and promising he has done over the years has gotten him nowhere. Rather, it has gotten him everywhere he doesn't want to be: far from normal. 'My family,' he muses. 'We were turning into a vaudeville act' (p. 234). Klise's story is confusing at times, and the motivation for the family to run from their previous home in Normal, Illinois, and live on a houseboat--the rickety S. S. O'Migosh--just doesn't make sense, even with the knowledge that there is an earlier book, DELIVER US FROM NORMAL, dedicated to the explanation of the situation. The family had been labeled 'poor white trash,' so they snuck out of town in the middle of the night, like criminals, and headed for Alabama and a life on the water? Mmmmmm, okay, I guess. Leaving the original story behind, the depiction of the Harrisongs as they unwillingly and unknowingly become prisoners of megastore Bargain Bonanza is an interesting metaphor for society today. Yes, it's true, we are all caught in the net of one 'superstore' or another, whether we wish to be or not, and, yes, the little man has become completely helpless in the shadow of the wealth and power driving humanity today. We are all captives of the 'superstore,' and there is little we can do to free ourselves at this point, as most of us don't even realize we are prisoners. My concern with FAR FROM NORMAL, ultimately, is not the improbability of some of the situations or the confusing twists and timelines, but that the underlying message may be missed by the audience, especially younger readers. Few teens are reading Hegel, after all, and the use of his words to inspire Charles seems odd to me: Is this scenario a case of 'right against right' (p. 118)? Still, Klise's words have the potential to make a reader puzzle, think, consider, question, search, and discover, and, as these are goals of good young adult literature, I believe FAR FROM NORMAL to be a positive addition to any reading list. **Reviewed by: Mechele R. Dillard

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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