A new, engaging, and informative perspective that redefines what “normal” should really mean.

NORMAL SUCKS

HOW TO LIVE, LEARN, AND THRIVE OUTSIDE THE LINES

A challenge to rethink “normal.”

When Mooney (The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal, 2007, etc.) was a child, he was “diagnosed with multiple language-based disabilities and attention deficit disorder. When the educational psychologist broke the news to my mom and me, it was as if someone had died.” For years after, the author struggled to conform to whatever concept of “normal” he thought would help him fit in and stop feeling like a “weird kid.” In this sometimes-humorous and thought-provoking analysis of his childhood, adolescence, and college years, Mooney shares what it was like to be different from the norm, which he astutely points out “is a false standard for human value.” He provides an extensive history of how the idea of normal evolved, giving readers an eye-opening look at the standards we are often forced to live with, whether we know it or not—and whether we have learning disabilities, physical and/or mental disabilities, or in some other way do not fit the traditional picture of normal. Some of the historical research the author cites is horrifying, such as the sterilization techniques and lobotomies used on those with mental disabilities. Mooney discusses the rise of eugenics and how Hitler adopted these ideas for his own Final Solution. He expertly brings the conversation back to a more personal level when he shares how, with the help of a friend, he began to accept his differences and embrace his neurodiversity, wrote a book, and then gave lectures on the benefits of neurodiversity. He touches lightly on the current ideas about the benefits of neurodiversity in society; some readers will wish this section was longer. Throughout, the author encourages readers to reexamine the concept of normality and to embrace the idea that all humans have something to offer society.

A new, engaging, and informative perspective that redefines what “normal” should really mean.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19016-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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