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Waiting for Normal
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Waiting for Normal

4.5 149
by Leslie Connor

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Addie is waiting for normal.

But Addie's mom has an all-or-nothing approach to life: a food fiesta or an empty pantry, jubilation or gloom, her way or no way.

All or nothing never adds up to normal.

All or nothing can't bring you all to home, which is exactly where Addie longs to be, with her half sisters, every day.

In spite of life's twists and turns


Addie is waiting for normal.

But Addie's mom has an all-or-nothing approach to life: a food fiesta or an empty pantry, jubilation or gloom, her way or no way.

All or nothing never adds up to normal.

All or nothing can't bring you all to home, which is exactly where Addie longs to be, with her half sisters, every day.

In spite of life's twists and turns, Addie remains optimistic. Someday, maybe, she'll find normal.

Leslie Connor has created an inspiring novel about one girl's giant spirit. waiting for normal is a heartwarming gem.

Editorial Reviews

The Horn Book
“Connor convincingly portray’s Addie’s beyond-her-years resourcefulness and the opposing feelings that drive her to protect the life she has while longing to be a permanent part of the ‘normal’ home her sisters occupy with her stepfather.”
Publishers Weekly

Connor (Dead on Town Line) treats the subject of child neglect with honesty and grace in this poignant story. Addie's stepfather, Dwight, has always been the responsible one in the family. But after he and her mother divorce, and he gets custody of Addie's two younger half-sisters, it's up to Addie, a sixth-grader, to keep order in the tiny trailer that Dwight has found for Addie and her mother. While her mother disappears for days at a time with her new boyfriend, Addie cultivates friendships with people she meets at a neighboring convenience store, but the affection she receives from others doesn't compensate for the absence of love in her home. Addie works hard to fill the void her volatile mother creates, and Addie's attempts to make things "normal" result in some of the most moving scenes: she keeps the cabinets full by putting empty boxes of food on the shelf "for show." In such moments Connor shows both the extent to which Addie has been abandoned and just how resilient and resourceful she is. Characters as persuasively optimistic as Addie are rare, and readers will gravitate to her. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Eleven-year-old Addie is afflicted with a lazy, sloppy, selfish, computer chat-obsessed mother. Addie's mother and her latest husband Dwight are recently divorced. Dwight has custody of the two girls he and Addie's mother had together, but Addie is stuck living with her mother in a seedy trailer planted next to a train track, a mini-mart, a laundromat and a couple of abandoned parking lots. Life would be grim, except Addie has a gift for seeing the brighter side. Dwight, a good, responsible man, often brings her little sisters to visit. Addie makes friends with the owner of the mini-mart, a prodigiously fat woman in poor health. She tries hard in school and builds on her talents. Raised to believe that she doesn't have "the love of learning" by her mother, the truth is that Addie is dyslexic. In spite of her limitations, Addie has heart and takes joy in simple pleasures. She wins the support of her teachers; she excels in playing her stolen flute, helps out her neighbor, loves her little sisters, and takes care, as best she can, of her hapless mother. If Addie's mother would only realize Addie is the adult in the relationship, their lives might go better. Unfortunately, Addie's mother makes decisions that lead to disasters, including another stray pregnancy. Addie's dream is to be normal. She defines that as knowing what's going to happen from one day to the next. Maybe because of her optimism and resulting likeability, eventually that's exactly what she gets. This book persuades that good people and delightful possibilities are all around, even in the most unpromising circumstances. Age Range: Ages 12 to 18. REVIEWER: Myrna Marler (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Before the divorce, life with her stepfather and half-sisters gave sixth grader Addie a glimpse of normal life. Now, though, she is stuck in a trailer in a dreary part of Schenectady, New York, with her mercurial and unreliable mother. Resilient Addie, however, makes the most of every situation. She befriends the owner of a nearby minimart, plays flute at school, and makes the trailer a home. Although yearning to belong to her stepfather's new family-which she visits-Addie tries to keep believing her mother's promises of prosperity, and to keep "Mommers's" prolonged absences a secret. When a disaster reveals her abandonment, though, Addie discovers many heroes eager to help her out-and maybe, at last, to get her the normal life she craves. This novel is all about character, and Addie's shines. She personifies loyalty, optimism, hard work, pragmatism, and courage. Like such beloved heroines as Sara Crewe, Polly Pepper, and Little Orphan Annie, Addie effortlessly finds the positive in life, without denying its bleak realities, and earns true friends who catch her when she falls. The other characters-especially the vibrant, self-obsessed Mommers; the bighearted, cancer-ridden minimart owner; and the loving stepfather-are engagingly multilayered as well. There are no villains here, just real people. The book's only flaws are that Mommers's activities are kept too secret, building an unfulfilled sense of mystery, and that the story spreads out over too long a time period, slowing its momentum. Try with fans of the well-deserved happy ending. Reviewer: Rebecca C. Moore
Sarah de Verges
Twelve-year-old Addie is used to taking care of herself. Her mother is unstable, unreliable, and mostly absent, and she has been separated from her stepfather and little sisters. As Addie adjusts to a new life in a small trailer under a bridge in Schenectady, New York, she realizes that the thing she really wants is to just be normal. In this novel, we meet a heroine in a young girl whose future seems anything but bright. Connor introduces us to Addie, a ray of sunshine in the dismal world around her. Addie's optimism, sensitivity, and honesty bring joy to the people she meets. As you read this sincere though heart-wrenching novel, you will feel yourself wishing, more than anything, a "normal" life for Addie. Reviewer: Sarah de Verges
School Library Journal

Gr 6-8- A story centered around loss, heartbreak, abandonment, and new beginnings. Although Dwight is no longer Addie's stepfather due to his divorce from her mother, the two still share an unbreakable bond. Dwight secures a trailer for Addie and her mother in an unremarkable part of Schenectady, NY. Mommers sleeps during the day and leaves Addie at night to pursue "business" interests with her new boyfriend. Meanwhile, Dwight has moved to Lake George with Addie's half sisters, for whom he was awarded custody. Despite the many upheavals in her young life, Addie adjusts as well as she can. She participates in the school orchestra, despite the fact that her dyslexia makes learning the music challenging. Her mother's antipathy toward Dwight doesn't prevent her from allowing Addie to visit him and her sisters during school breaks, during which she gets a taste of normalcy. However, the woman's irresponsibility, inability to tell the truth, and frequent absences, often for days at a time, put Addie in danger. Connor has created a winning and positive father-figure/daughter relationship between Dwight and Addie. She introduces serious topics such as cancer, neglect, and learning disabilities without sensationalizing or trivializing the subjects. Although Mommers is clearly an unfit parent, Connor does show believable instances of her love for her children, juxtaposed with scenes of embarrassingly childish behavior and cutting remarks.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A heroine with spunk and spirit offers an inspiring lesson in perseverance and hope. When a young girl's parents divorce, she's separated from her stepfather and her two young half-sisters. Life is far from normal as Addie and her irresponsible mother settle into a tiny trailer on the corner of an urban intersection. Addie admits, "I'm good at getting used to things-been doing it all my life," and immediately makes a cozy nest for herself in the trailer. She optimistically starts sixth grade, makes friends, meets her neighbors and keeps house on a shoestring while her unpredictable mother spends days sleeping and nights chatting on the Internet. Challenged by dyslexia, Addie works extra hard to succeed in school and learn her flute part in the orchestra. Yearning for a "normal" life, Addie's shaken when her stepfather and sisters move away leaving her on her own with her moody mother who disappears for days. Disappointed and alone, Addie realistically makes the best of a bad situation. In the end, her positive attitude and ability to find happiness make all the difference as she patiently waits for "normal." First-rate. (Fiction. 10-13)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.37(h) x 1.01(d)
570L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Waiting for Normal

Chapter One

Tin box on a tar patch

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.

"I said, what are we doing here?" Mommers repeated.

"This is the place," Dwight mumbled.

Mommers sat up. She opened her eyes wide and looked out the front windshield. Then she screamed. "Dwight! You've got to be kidding me! This is the city!"

Dwight leaned away from her—protecting his ear—and in that quiet way he's got about him, he told Mommers, "Come on, Denise. Let's not go over it again. You know this is all I've got left. You can move in here, or go to Jack's place." He slid out of the truck.

Mommers swung her door open so hard it came back at her. She kicked it and it whined on the hinge."I can't live with Jack!"

She was talking about my grandfather on my father's side. I call him Grandio. That's his grandpa name, which my father taught me to say a long time ago. That's about all my father had time to teach me; he died when I was barely three. I've always kind of felt as if my father gave me Grandio—or tried to anyway—that he left him to me so I'd have as much family as possible. Thing is, he kind of left Grandio to Mommers, too. I've never seen two people who wanted less to do with each other.

"I hate Jack!" Mommers hollered at Dwight. "And I hate you!"

"I know," said Dwight, as if he had accepted that a long time ago.

I unfolded myself from the back of the cab, where I'd been squashed in the little jump seat, and slipped down to the ground. Dwight lifted our bags out of the back of his truck and handed Mommers a key.

"Go in and have a look. We can work on it some if you want," he said. "And the computer is in for you and Addie." He tried to say all this with a hopeful note in his throat—Dwight always did that.

But Mommers threw the key down hard as she could. It hit the ground with a tiny ringing sound like a little chime. "I suppose you want me to overflow with gratitude!" she yelled. "I get a cruddy tin box for a house and a dinosaur for a computer! Lucky me! What about the duplex, Dwight? You could have given me that!"

"The duplex is gone to pay for the house, Denise." Dwight kept his lips in a line. Mommers kicked at her own overstuffed suitcase. Then she said all kinds of other things I won't mention, but boy, did I hear some language.

Dwight walked away from her. That might have seemed mean to anyone who happened to be watching that day, but I didn't really blame him. He had my little sisters to think of—half sisters, that is. They're Dwight's kids. I'm not. (Like I said, my family is full of twists and turns.) He leaned down and gave me a shaky hug. I squeezed him back and swallowed hard. He whispered into my shoulder. "I'm sorry, Addie, girl." Then he looked at me eye to eye and said, "I'll be around—you know that."

I nodded. "And you'll bring Brynna and Katie, right?"

"Of course. As often as I can."

"Then it'll be all right," I said, and I faked a big old smile.

Dwight got back into his truck and raised a hand to wave good-bye. He turned his wheels away from us and with a screech and a lurch, he was outta there.

I stood next to Mommers, both of us looking at the trailer. The thing was dingy and faded. But I could tell that it'd once been the color of sunshine. It was plunked down on a few stacks of cinder blocks at the corner of Freeman's Bridge Road and Nott Street in the city of Schenectady—in the state of New York. It was a busy corner—medium busy, I'd say. The only patch out front was the tarry blacktop bubbling up in the heat of the late summer afternoon. No pinwheels. No garden gnome.

"Can you believe this, Addison?" Mommers said. She stared at the trailer door. "That reprobate."

"Reprobate?" I said. "There's one for my vocabulary book."

"Yeah, Addie. And for the definition, you just write Dwight!"

She fell into a heap and started to cry. I stooped beside Mommers. I gave her shoulder a pat, tried to get her to look at me, but she wouldn't. Then the little flash of silver caught my eye. I reached down and picked up the key.

Waiting for Normal. Copyright © by Leslie Connor. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Leslie Connor is the author of several award-winning books for children, including Waiting for Normal, winner of the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, Crunch, Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel, and Dead on Town Line, a young adult novel in verse. She lives with her family in Connecticut.

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Waiting for Normal 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 149 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was really good, but REALLY descriptive, so i would reccomend it for 10+ girls and MAYBE 13-14+ boys (anyone younger wouldnt know what a period is, but i wont tell) also, LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in school and i love it. It is prabably my new favorite book.i would recommend it to anyone. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was inspiring, creative, fun, and i couldnt stop reading until i was finished.... this book was AWESOME!!! :D
Evansmom99 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. This story was about a little girl whose mother leaves her alone all the time to go about her own life. This life style happens everyday in our society and it's very sad. In this story you just want to rescue this little girl and bring her home. Thank goodness for those who do love her. You will laugh and cry in this touching story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is AMAZING!!!!! Words cant describe how much I LOVED this book.... read it read it read it !!!!!!!
anna_love More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I read in a while. It's about Addie, age 12, who moves to a "tin box on a tar patch" with her wry mother. At first, when I read the first few pages I couldn't get into the book. But giving it another chance, I found Waiting to Normal to be one of the greatest books I read, that changed the way I think a little bit, in a way. I recommend this book to kids 13 and younger (for girls, there are somethings in the book that a boy wouldn't quite "get"). I think it's worthwhile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!! I love the whole thing!!!!!!! I am now rereading it for the third time. I'm picking up on things I missed the first time. Awesome ending too
Team_Demigod More than 1 year ago
This group in school I was in and I chose this book for a project, and we finished it in no time! Even though it is an easy read, the topic is very mature (her neglecting mother) and teaches a valuable lesson. I recommend this book for people who are interested in the subject!
mostest_pug_lover More than 1 year ago
Waiting for Normal was a great book! I finished it really quickly and couldn't seem to put it down. I like how the main character, Addie, stays hopeful even through the rough spots. The author did a nice job writing about child neglect and the hardships of a girl growing up without a caring mother. This book is real, inspiring, and overall something I would recommend to girls who like realistic fiction. I loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BrookGabrielle More than 1 year ago
This book was an awesome book!! I have read it and a lot of my friends and family have read it!!! I am reading it again! To all people reading this, READ THIS BOOK!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loooooove this book i have read alot of books before and i half to say this is one of the bests as soon as i started reading i couldent put it down its about a girl tht has to live in a trailer with her mommers and her new pet hamster as soon as u think this book is good it gets better a terrible thing happens to the trailer and her older best friend ends up in a trgic ending then it goes from bad to good when addie moves in with her g-ma starts her period and geta to spend more time with her two step sisters i would rate this book a ten on a scale from one to ten i totally recomend it hope u love it too!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this nd i couldnt stop its amazing love the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes you should. However i reccomend you dont read it if you have not watched the movie yet(ya no the one about body changes). In waiting for normal addie experences life on a giant roller coaster such as bizarro. Addies life has many ups and downs and speedbumps. It is hard for her to live through her friend having cancer , burning the trailer down and all of the physical and emotional times of growing up. I am afraid that i have already spoiled way to much for you so you have to read the book for yourself. O btw i only reccomend this book to girls. It is inappropriate for a boy for reasons only girls would understand. I hope you take reading Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor into consideration. Remember i reccomend you read after watching the movie. Also NO BOYS ALLOWED. STRICTLY GIRLS ONLY TERRITORY. If you decided you liked waiting for normal, read these three books: Chicken soup for the girls soul Just as long as were together by Judy Blume Heres to you rache robinson by Judy Blume. An author to take in consideration is Judy Blume. She writes about changes in life and growing up. She also writes funny stuff such as the Fudge series. Good luck in life all of you guys out there and keep reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- @]-- xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):) ;);););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););););) +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+- <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 < 3<3 <3 <3 <3 < < < < < < < < < < < <
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It is so touching, and it made me cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so easy to relate to that you find yourself feeling how Addie feels. I loved it. It was school required, which i usually hate, but i read it all in a night. I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book its so so good i can't even tell you how good it was it grabs your attention and is kinda relatiable cuz we all have that not so rich friend and this is really about the character Addie's struggles. I would reccomened this book to anyone who loves realistic fiction
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best i luv this book. You should really read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate reading and this book made me want to read it over and over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I boight this as a Christmas gift for an 11-year old friend because it was so popular. I figured if I was giving it as a gift i should read it for myself. I absolutely loved it. I can't wait to check on how far my friend has gotten so we can discuss it together!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fave book ever!! Reccomrnd soul surfer and the winnie series!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3 words best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i love this book so much i have read it at least 3 times but some parts can be a little bit confusing for younger audiences i at first read it at age 8 and i got a little confused at parts like when they yelled or she got her period so if your not older than 10 then maybe wait but it is still really good!