Title: LOOKING FOR NORMAL
Author: KAREN HARMON
Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, HISTORY, CANADIANA
Length: 268 PAGES
Publisher: TELLWELL PUBLISHING
Received From: THE AUTHOR
Release Date: 2018
ISBN: 978-0228802532 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0228802525 (Softcover)
Price: $23.00 CDN (Hardcover)
Price: $18.00 CDN (Softcover)
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦
It’s been said that we cannot choose our family members, but what do you do when the drama they bring becomes more than you want to deal with?
You hop on the train that will take you to the land of promise, an alluring place across the mountains, called British Columbia.
LOOKING FOR NORMAL is the account of two people, each struggling to leave the desperate and dysfunctional circumstances of their lives, to establish themselves in a completely different environment and a new location.
This is a sometimes humorous, sometimes sobering, yet always intriguing true story of family drama, and love found in the midst of heartache, addiction, and mental illness.
It takes readers through the Depression Era of the 1930s, on through the War and Post-War years of the 1940s and ’50s, to the Free Love of the 1960s and ’70s.
Against all odds, Vincent and Frances find each other in the land of promise, and begin the adventure of creating a new, better family experience: one filled with laughter, hope, and undying love.
They discover that family is not far behind, and through each new episode of dysfunction, they create a lasting legacy of strength, hope, and love within their own children.
This is a heartwarming true story that encourages readers to look on the lighter side of life, to enjoy all that life brings, and to treasure family regardless of what struggles may come.
I have had the benefit of “talking” to the author and she informed me that the original idea behind this book was to create a book that detailed her parent’s lives so her children would be able to feel like they knew them. It is a wonderful idea and I love that Karen decided two things:
1. To not sugarcoat her telling of the lives of her parents,
2. To share their story with the world.
Too often when telling others about our parents, or even those who came before them, we edit out the warts of their lives. It is human nature to want people to like us, and somehow that seems to extend to our ancestors as well. No one wants to admit that the blood that flows through our veins or that the DNA in our makeup has any taint to it at all. But, humans are never completely good, or completely bad. And, just because our ancestor did something or had an illness, does not mean that we have the same illness or even the same tendencies.
In LOOKING FOR NORMAL, we learn that Karen’s Grandparents and parents were not perfect (whose were?) We also learn that her parents were determined to create better lives for themselves and to break the family cycle of unhappiness.
The story begins with the following:
“Frances hated her mother. She was taught by the nuns that it was not “Biblical” to hate. So, she decided to leave her mother and the Catholic Church in one fell swoop. Both forces in her life had deceived and criticized her. In Frances’s eyes, both were hypocritical.”
Now, if reading that short paragraph does not entice you to want to read more, well then, you must not have an inquisitive bone in your body. For me, that very first paragraph had we wanting to know more.
Why does Frances hate her mother? What would make someone go to the extreme of saying they hated their mother? What terrible thing or things had she done to Frances? And, why did she hate the church? What had they done to be hypocritical? What did they criticize her about?
So, on I read and what I discovered was a compelling tale which began with Frances (the author’s mother) at the train station in 1941 waiting to catch a train to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“Frances took one last look at her family. Standing on the platform with them, she felt adventurous and defiant, with no fear of the unknown as she bravely embarked on this journey towards her future… She was physically and mentally abandoning this town, her family, and all the narrow-minded, crazy people in it.”
The courage to pick up and move to a city she had never seen, and to do it as a woman alone, was almost unheard of in 1941. That she did this at a time in history when women were viewed as property of their fathers or husbands, says multitudes about her character and fierce determination.
I do not want to give away too much of the story, so suffice it to say that every reader who picks up this book will be rooting for Frances to find love and understanding.
In addition to being a fascinating story, LOOKING FOR NORMAL also transports readers into the past. This book allows us to glimpse what life was like for ordinary people during the last few generations. It is a true gift to read a true story such as this which is set not in the United States, but right here in Canada.
I enjoyed this book immensely and was thrilled to have the next book in the “series” already on hand so that I could continue to follow the history of the author.
I rate LOOKING FOR NORMAL as 5 out of 5 Enthusiastic Stars.
I will be posting my review of the second book – WHERE IS MY HAPPY ENDING? in the next day or two.
*** Thank you to the Author for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Karen Harmon is an author born in North Vancouver, British Columbia, where she resides today.
Educated and employed as a Special Needs Teaching Assistant for the School District of West Vancouver, Karen can also be found teaching a variety of exercise classes as a BCRPA fitness instructor in both North and West Vancouver. Karen takes health, family and fitness seriously but can find humour in almost any situation.
As a mother of three adult children Jessica, Emma and Mackenzie, Karen shares her co-parenting with her husband Paul of twenty-three years.
Karen is passionate about reaching out to the marginalized people in
her community through health and fitness. Her main hobby has been cycling with her “bike trip friends” yearly since 1993 all over British Columbia and parts of the United States.
On social media, Karen has over 8,000 followers and has travelled to Belgium, Germany, Holland, Paris, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia to host events and speak to her many supporters.
She offers an
inspirational message of hope and how to find a successful balance
with family, friends, education, work and play.
Karen is currently accepting invitations for speaking engagements and writing festivals.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links: