Waiting for Normal

Waiting for Normal . Leslie Connor;

Katherine Tegen Books, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2008

Grades 6-8

ISBN 978-0-06-089088-9

ISBN 978-0-06-089089-6 $17.89

Used with permission of HarperCollins Children's Books.


Twelve year old Addie has a strange and erratic life. Her mother swings from a fun and loving parent to missing for days at a time. Addie has learned to take care of herself and avoid social services, but all she really longs for is a normal life with her half-sisters and step-father.


General Review: 

Waiting for Normal is a wonderfully written book about the difficulties many children face when they live with a parent suffering from mental illness. Addie is a smart, hard working middle school student who just wants a normal life and tries her best to have one despite her mother's problems. She is supported by a loving and interesting cast of family and friends including her ex-step-father, grandfather and the odd pair that run the minimart next to her new trailer home. Addie has a hectic life between practicing the flute, caring for her pet hamster, and covering for her mother so social services won't take her away. This story is a true to life portrayal of the craziness some children face and the self reliance they build when they live on the fringes of normal.


Themes: self reliance, mental illness, mothers, family, step-fathers, friendship, music


Author information: 



School Library Journal's Best Books 2008

ALA Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults


Discussion Questions: (Standard 3; Benchmark 3)

1. Did Addie make the right choice in not telling her step-father, grandfather or social services about her mother's absences? Why do you think she did it? What would you do in a similar situation?

2. Addie faces many difficult situations each day – what do you feel is the hardest thing she has to overcome? Why?

3. Addie keeps a list of words she hears that she likes – what is your favorite one? What does it mean? Try to use it in normal conversation.

4. Addie's mom has a mental illness known as bipolar disorder. People with this illness will switch from high points of extreme happiness and high productivity to low points often marked by crying, anger and depression. What behaviors does Mommers display that reflect her illness? What are her high points? What are her lows?



1. Have the student research bipolar disorder – what treatments are available, how does the illness effect the sufferer, how does it affect loved ones of the sufferer? (Standard 3, Benchmark 2)

2. Have the student plan how they would take care of themselves if they were Addie. List what foods they could prepare for themselves. Do they have pets that would require care? What kind of care does the pet need? Do they have school activities they would need or want to try and continue? (Standard 3, Benchmark 3)

3. Divide the students into groups and have them debate the pros and cons of Addie's decision to avoid social services instead of letting them help her. How does their personal experience contribute to their point of view? How does their point of view differ from Addie's and how does that effect how they respond? (Standard 2, Benchmark 2)


Similar Books for Further Reading :

•  The Boy from the Basement by Susan Shaw

•  Call Me Hope by Gretchen Olson