One of my favorite film performances of all time is Giulietta Masina in the Fellini film Nights at Cabiria. In it, Masina plays a woman of the night with terrible luck but a persistent good temper that keeps her afloat even after the worst of situations. I thought about that film a lot reading Leslie Connor’s Waiting for Normal. I couldn’t believe how much, well, crap our heroine Addie had to endure, most of which she does with a buoyant spirit. She has her breaking point, of course, but it comes so late, after so much woe that any normal person would have cracked. But that is the beauty of Addie and Waiting for Normal. Addie isn’t a normal young girl. She wants normal things, a home, a family, etc, but her attitude towards life is wholly extraordinary, but at the same time, believable. I had no problem accepting that a girl who has had to fend for herself so much who excuse or ignore the inadequacies of her mother, because at heart Addie loves her mother, criminal neglect and all. And the love of a twelve year old girl is a powerful thing. I admire how Connor chose to end her novel. It’s a happy ending with a “but” hanging overhead. Not low enough to be overwhelming, but enough to be there, a real presence in Addie’s life forever. I thoroughly enjoyed spending my time with Addie, and I can’t wait to read more of Connor’s work. I have Crunch at the library now, and I’ll have to check it out soon.
Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
2008, Katherine Tegan Books