Searching for Normal
by Alison NeumanSearching for Normal is a book about following in the great tradition of creative nonfiction. Detailing her personal experience from the onset of a rare and painful illness at the age of three, Alison Neuman recounts her personal journey coming to terms with an ever-shifting conception of 'normality'. The disease having shaped her life in ways most could never imagine, a carefree childhood quickly morphed into a blur of ongoing hospitalizations, increasingly reduced mobility, and overwhelming fatigue and pain.
But amidst her constant battles with her health, Alison emerged as a champion. Searching for Normal will leave readers awed by Alison's perseverance and strength of character. Her story serves as a pertinent reminder that 'normal', is in the eye of the beholder.
What is normal? Normal is a relative term. What is normal to me, may be abnormal to you. Yet, we all seek to find a sense of "normalcy" in our lives, basing it on what we perceive the world thinks is the definition. We can torture ourselves as we look for that ideal. Alison's devastating, rare disease, in which her own body was trying to kill her, created a new kind of normal for her, yet she strove to be as much like her "normal" peers as she could.
It's heartbreaking to follow her struggles. The teacher in me gets annoyed with her teachers who kept trying to tell her she would fail or wasn't smart enough. I rejoiced in her triumphs, as did she, and kept cheering her on throughout the book.
Memoirs are not usually my favorite thing to read. They don't always quite follow an easy storyline, like a novel does. But this story is interesting enough to check out. You may be surprised to find out that you know of Alison Neuman, after all, and wish you could be "normal" like her!
Meet the author:Alison Neuman lives in Alberta, Canada, where she works as a freelance writer. Nearing the end of her studies at Grant MacEwan College, she was inspired to complete the first draft of Ice Rose: A Young Adult Spy Novel. The YA novel integrates her love for gadgetry with the broad imaginative license afforded by the secret agent genre, and features a female protagonist in a wheelchair. It was published in 2010 by Fireside Publications.
Alison’s work has appeared in MacEwan Today, Westword, and the Edmonton Journal as well as on three tracks of the CD release, Outside The Window, and as a credit on the script for Cheryl Kaye Tardif's screenplay adaptation of Whale Song. She was also an "Edmonton Stories' top-ten finalist, a winner in the "Expressions of Hunger" in the Emotional Poetry Category (2009), and a nominee for the Northlands Award for Emerging Artist (2012), Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award, and Avenue’s "Top 40 Under 40."
Alison was also honoured in 2011 for her human rights work in advocating for the rights of the disabled. One of her greatest achievements is an integrative camp she started for children from all walks of life—both with and without disabilities. Camp Mission Access uses a secret agent theme and activities as children of all abilities complete mission activities. Since 2010, she has been a member of iDANCE Edmonton, performing regularly. A musical version of Searching for Normal, will debut at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in August 2013.
Alison is currently working towards her Master of Arts at Athabasca University and, when time permits, completing her next YA novel.
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