The Opposite of Normal by Judy Mollen Walters
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: February 2, 2014
Format: Paperback - 232 pages / Kindle - 660 KB
Genre: Women's Fiction / Family Drama & Life
BUY THE BOOK: The Opposite of Normal
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
His daughter, Hannah, twelve, struggles with grief, loneliness, and what it means to be Jewish as a Chinese adoptee. She wants to fit in, but that's difficult in their new mostly white and Christian town--so she decides to secretly convert.
His son, Aaron, a senior in high school, is applying to Ivy League schools and counting down to when he can leave the small town--until he discovers a shocking secret that threatens his entire future.
Lurking in the shadows is a pastor who says he just wants to support the kids in his congregation, but is that all he really wants?
The Opposite of Normal is about what it means to love and accept, what it means to do the right thing, and what it means to heal after loss.
My Book Review:
The Opposite of Normal is a poignant story that follows the struggles of the Friedlander family to move forward with their lives after the loss of their wife/mother to cancer.
Rabbi Mark Friedlander is a forty-seven year old widower who moved his family (seventeen year old Aaron and twelve year old Hannah) two years ago from Manhattan to a Northwestern small town in NJ for a fresh start after the death of his wife Julie. He thought the move would give them a quiet life where they could start over. But life in the suburbs is the opposite of normal for the Friedlander family as Mark, Aaron and Hannah continue to struggle with the loss of their wife/mother, and each encounters personal issues that unravels their family bonds even further. Can the Friedlander family find a way to accept the loss, find a way to heal, strengthen their family bond, and move forward with their lives?
Author Judy Mollen Walters weaves a poignant emotional family tale of loss and healing that tugs at the heartstrings. Set in a small Northwestern NJ small town, written in the third person narrative with alternating chapter perspectives by Mark, Aaron, and Hannah, with flashbacks to the past revolving around the family memories of Julie, the reader is easily drawn into the complicated family dynamic of the Friedlander family.
Mark struggles with the loss of his wife and the insecurity of his new role as a sole parent to his children. He is also dealing with a declining congregation membership. He has been informed that if the enrollment numbers do not increase by the end of Spring, that the synagogue's board will not renew his contract.
Aaron is a seventeen year old high school senior who is struggling with the loss of his mother, and his conflicting feelings about his Christian girlfriend Marti, and his wish to leave the small NJ town to attend Columbia University. A poor decision made with Marti ensues in a "crisis" can possibly cost Aaron his dream.
Hannah was adopted by Mark and Julie from a Chinese orphanage when she was six months old, and has been raised in the Jewish faith. Now at the age of twelve, she is unwillingly preparing for her Bat Mitzvah and struggles with her identity and religious affiliation. Feeling like a misfit and having a hard time fitting in with her classmates, all she wants is to look and act like everyone else. Her desire to be like her Christian best friend Kristin, leads Hannah into trouble when an overzealous and unscrupulous pastor sets his sights on her as his next "convert."
The Opposite of Normal easily draws the reader into the Friedlander family's personal struggles as they journey down the path of loss, healing, and moving forward. As the reader becomes invested in the Friedlander family's lives, each of their personal issues, sense of grief, and the unraveling of the family bond unfolds, it is an emotional and palpable story, you can't help but hope they find a way back to each other as a family.
The author provides the reader with a very richly descriptive and indepth look into the Jewish faith and traditions, touches upon the Christian faith, and a variety of social issues that I found to be very intriguing and informative.
If you are looking for a heartfelt and emotional family story that will leave you satisfied at the end, then look no further, The Opposite of Normal is the book for you!
RATING: 4 STARS ****
About The Author