Normal Family Trilogy
Tragi-comic Holiday Fun!
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Normal Family is a hilarious coming-of-age novel about a precocious boy's four frustrating holidays with his eccentric family. (This is the first book in the trilogy. Volume Two information here.)
Over the course of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Independence Day, during the tumultuous 1960s, Henry Pendergast struggles to understand his once-famous author (and now alcoholic) grandfather George, who sobers up just in time to help Henry come to terms with the mystery surrounding his mother's mental illness.
Henry perseveres through a landmine of dysfunctional siblings, parents, and stepfamily, all the time searching for a normal family not to be found. In the end, he discovers the hidden truth about his family and suffers a heartbreaking loss in the process.
Funny, sad, witty, and smart, Normal Family is the perfect read for the holidays or any other time when a good laugh is needed.
"I loved Normal Family. It is tragi-comic at times which is not always easy to do. And whilst I was reading it those around me asked what book I was reading because of the range of emotions it incited in me.
Some of it rang so true, it left me wondering how much was (auto)biographical and/or observed. I liked the writing too and the author's voice definitely spoke to me: authenticity. So if none of it is authentic he is a damned good writer.... The book is still with me.
It manages to be really good fun, and deal with deeper, more serious issues almost simultaneously."
“Normal Family by Don Trowden is a novel that reads like a memoir. But this one — because it’s fiction — is funny, and made me laugh out loud.
“All I ever wanted was a normal family — whatever that might be — free from the constant insanity and fighting, to be raised in a supportive environment along the lines of what I saw in other respectable homes,” young Henry, our protagonist, tells us. “Why was my family so bizarre? Had I been secretly adopted? Was I being punished for the sins of some previous life?”
Henry’s grandfather had a bomb shelter next to his New England home, “a subterranean hideout where he frequently slipped away for solitude and gin.” His mother suffered from depression, but each person in the family had quirks. “My mother, brother and grandfather were similar in one significant way — each had little use for other people. Each had an investigative mind, the scientist’s mind. Input from others was always wrong; no one could possibly do anything as well as they could.”
The book has tender moments surrounded by hilarity, along with some wonderful one-liners: “Albert (his brother) had drolly remarked our mother was someone who preferred to burn her bridges before she got on them”; “Grandpa swerved up the lawn looking like Frankenstein in search of unsuspecting villagers.”