May 30, 2017

Practicing Normal Cara Sue Achterberg

Published: Story Plant
Date: June 6th 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Author via NetGalley
4 stars             Add to Goodreads
The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia.

The Turners know in their hearts that they're anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors' homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger's who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by.

And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett's secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face.

Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That's what happens when you're practicing normal.

My thoughts banner
Opening up Practicing Normal to read I wasn't sure what I was going to find, or whether I would enjoy it, pretty much normal for me when I am reading into a new author. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed this story very much.

The telling of the story rotates around three of the characters - Kate, mom and married to Everett, Jenna their daughter and Everett himself.  Through them we are given a view into the family dynamics.

The plot moves along at a good pace, there was always something interesting happening, and just a small thread of mystery weaving through that held my attention.

Kate - the mom, was a self sacrificing person, she was an ER nurse but now pretty much takes care of the various emergencies that arise in the family. She takes care of her ageing mother down the road, her son JT who is on the Asperger's continuum and generally keeps the family running. She also is perhaps being taken for a ride by a couple of people in her life. I liked her a lot, although I wished for more for her.

Jenna is her teen daughter, when we meet her she is breaking into houses and cutting school. However at the core she is okay and with the right people around her has every chance of doing well.

Everett is in my opinion a self serving, self centred person and ... a bully. While he does do a few things that redeem him a little he is mainly about his own pleasure. He needs a very large wake up call.

There are other characters in this book too who add to the story and the appeal of the book. Cassie in particular, the hospice nurse and cat lady, who is a support when needed and is one of those people any neighbor would be happy to have around.

If you enjoy family dynamics then you just might enjoy this story as much as I did.
new to me author page turner well written family


  1. Family dynamics? Sure I can enjoy that .)

  2. can you say dysfunction ;-) LOL
    Great review Kathryn

  3. Definitely sounds different but in a good way! I do enjoy family dynamic stories and I don't think I've come across anything quite like this!

  4. I like the sound of this one. I can tell I will hate Everett...and it's probably not surprising that so many of the husbands in fiction are unlikable...LOL.

  5. Practicing Normal sounds like it would be an interesting read. Have a great week.


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