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Discussion Module

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

Waiting for Normal
b
y Leslie Connor

Publishing Information: Katherin Tegen Books: New York, 2008
ISBN: 9780060890889 / 9780060890896 (Library)
Pages
: 290 p.
Ages: 10 & Up

Summary:
Twelve-year-old Addie tries to cope with her mother's erratic behavior and being separated from her beloved stepfather and half-sisters when she and her mother go to live in a small trailer by the railroad tracks on the outskirts of Schenectady, New York.

Book Talk:
Imagine having to keep track of your food and how much you eat because your mother hasn’t gone food shopping in a while. Or imagine having to entertain yourself on holidays because your mother is out…again.

Twelve-year-old Addie lives in a yellow trailer on a busy corner lot with her neglectful mother.  She wants her life to be “normal” and to live with her loving step-father and half-sisters. But she feels somewhat responsible for her mother. Addie doesn’t want her mother to get into trouble because she is never home with her. So Addie tries to make the best of it but it’s getting harder and harder to live with the lie. 
Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Child Neglect
Coping
Family problems
Friendship
Hope
Mother and daughter
Resilience (Personal Quality)
Self-reliance
Stepfathers

Awards & Reviews:
ALA Notable Children's Books, 2009
Schneider Family Book Award Winners, 2009
School Library Journal Best Books, 2008
Utah's Beehive Award Nominees, 2010
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009

Booklist, April 1, 2008, p. 50
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books), June 1, 2008
Horn Book Magazine, March 1, 2008, p. 215
Kirkus, December 15, 2007, p. 1293 (Starred Review)
Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2008, p. 155 (Starred Review)
School Library Journal
, February 1, 2008, p. 112 (Starred Review
)
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, February 1, 2008  

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Addie tries to make the best out of the little trailer. What would you do? How would you react?
  2. How does Addie’s learning disability affect her life? 
  3. Why does Addie continue to go to the convenience store across the street? How do they help her? What do they become to her?
  4. Does her step-father realize what is happening? Explain.
  5. Why does Addie refuse to play her flute in the school concert? What would you do in that situation?
  6. How does Addie’s learning disability affect her life? 
  7. How would you feel if your parent didn’t come home some nights? Would you turn your parent in to the authorities?
  8. Why does Addie care so much about her pet? What does he represent to her?
  9. What would the story be like if the main character was a boy? Would he react the same way as Addie does? Why or why not?
  10. Was the ending realistic? Why or why not?

Related Websites:
Interview with the author: http://www.harpercollins.com/author/authorExtra.aspx?authorID=30604&isbn13=9780060890889&displayType=bookinterview
Kids Peace: http://www.kidspeace.org: State specific foster care and family service information

Read-a-Likes:
The Boy from the Basement by Susan Shaw, 2004
Bringing Up Beauty by Sylvia McNicoll, 1999
Call Me Hope by Gretchen Olson, 2007
The Chicken Dance by Jacques Couvillon, 2007
Frozen Billy by Anne Fine, 2006
Go with Grace by George Alexopoulos, 2006
Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher, 2005
Like a TV Hero by Bredna Bellingham, 1991
Little Chicago by Adam Rapp, 2002
The Lost Children: The Boys Who Were Neglected
by Paul Goble, 1993
Nancy & Plum by Betty Bard MacDonald, 2000
Porcupine by Meg Tilly, 2007
The Possibility of Fireflies by Dominique Paul, 2006
Saving Grace by Darlene Ryan, 2006
Touch of the Clown by Glen Huser, 1999
The Truth or Something by Jeanne Willis, 2002
While No One Was Watching
by Jane Leslie Conly, 1998

Other Books by the Authors:
Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel, 2004
Dead on Town Line, 2005

About the Author:
Leslie Connor grew up outside of Schenectady, New York, and frequently crossed Freeman's Bridge on her way into the city. Waiting for Normal was inspired by a not-at-all-glamorous lot on a corner. Leslie thinks of this story as a love letter back to the city of Schenectady. She is the author of the award-winning picture book 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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