“This story of a life-changing friendship between generations is so full or risk and wisdom, I’m jealous that I didn’t write it myself.”Jacquelyne Mitchard
Entering Normal is a story of courage and loss, betrayal and love. It is a novel about an unlikely friendship, unexpected hope, and the bad choices a good mother can sometimes make. It is a story that goes to the very heart of love.
Opal is a single mother with a five-year-old son, Zack. Furious with her partner Billy, who takes no responsibility for Zack, and with her parents, who haven taken Billy’s side, she packs her car, throws a dice, and vows to stop only when three tanks of fuel have been used. And so Opal and Zack find themselves entering the saml Massachusetts town of Normal.
Watching Opal and Zack move in next door is Rose, still locked in grief for her son who was killed in a car accident five years ago. The two women couldn’t be more different, and yet when Opal is threatened with the loss of Zack, Rose finds she cannot stand by and watch – for Rose knows what it means to lose the person you most love.
Like my first book, Land’s End, this novel was given birth in a dream. One night I dreamt about a woman who woke with an itch on her stomach and a fear that she might wake her husband. All I knew at that point was that she had things she didn’t want her husband to know but by morning I knew that this woman had lost a son. The impression of the dream was so strong that it became the basis of a short story. When my friend Manette Ansay heard it she said, “That’s the first chapter of a novel.”
The novel itself is told by three characters, Opal, Rose, and Rose’s husband Ned, all of whom confront devastating loss and the questions it can pose. How is family really formed? How do we choose the path of the heart when it conflicts with the path of reason? What sacrifices must a mother be willing to make for her child? And, ultimately, how does one suffer the most painful of losses and then find the courage not only to go on, but to find meaning in the journey?
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