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Like Normal People

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  188 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A tour de force of literary craft and emotional resonance, Like Normal People charts a family constellation that revolves around an off-kilter center Lena, who is forty-eight but mentally locked in childhood. Moving deftly between present and past, the novel follows Lena's day-long escape from her residential home with her troubled twelve-year-old niece.
While this odd cou
269 pages
Published April 14th 2000 by Picador (first published April 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 573)
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Katie Addison
Jul 22, 2014 Katie Addison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have such a hard time understanding how anyone could give this book less than 5 stars. It captured me wholly. I was completely engrossed in the characters and the slow description of their lives. I found them so uniquely interesting, and Karen Bender's imagery is so beautiful and thought provoking. I enjoy that, really, so little happens in this book. It takes place in one day, and so many days are like that. This one was simultaneously uneventful and adventurous, with so much happening while ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I toyed with the idea of giving this book five stars because the figurative language was just so beautiful. The imagery made me pause and ponder as I read. Then as I continued reading, I downgraded it to four stars. Although that is still a very good rating the plot was a disappointment. At first I thought the main character was Lena but Ella was the character that captured the book. Ella was who I ended up caring about since she was so well developed. Shelly was never completely finish ...more
This is just beautiful. Almost perfect. So touching.

Lena clapped her hand over her mouth. "I think you look like a silvery grownup," she said, and she seemed to mean it.

The air between Ella and her husband was bruised. She looked at her soup, not knowing what to say.

"What's your name?" the man asked Shelley.
She did not know what to answer. It was as though he were asking her to be born.

"royal with boredom"

Lena reached forward and put her hands on Shelley's. The girl's hands twitched beneath them
Feb 04, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very moving, with well imagined characters and incredible description that only occasionally goes on too long.
May 10, 2015 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took up most of my weekend. I loved the authors way of describing the light, " The dark air astonished her, for she had never precisely seen it before. It was the color of deep sapphire and beneath it the sand and water and trash cans were radiant and pure. "
This is mostly the story of a mother's love and how her perception changes as her daughters grow older and she loses her husband. A beautiful well written book. If you like character development and want to see into a woman's heart
Joan Colby
The premise of this novel was promising. A married couple Ella and Lou. Their daughters, Lena who is retarded and Vivian who is normal. Vivian’s daughter Shelley. Ella and Lou despair over Lena’s future. Lena falls in love and marries Bob, a retarded man who works with her at Goodwill. Lou and Ella strive to find a living situation for the couple, veering from their own home to an apartment to assisted living. Bob dies in an accident. Lou also dies. Shelley, now a teenager, goes off on a jaunt w ...more
May 10, 2015 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Achingly tender. A refreshingly frank story of a woman who is developmentally disabled and the family that loves her.
May 15, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting look at mentally challenged people..and how we can all go "off" the chart "normal wise". Good read
The story is about a family of women, their problems and handicaps, and their love for each other.
Dec 07, 2015 Alix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not cliche, in story or writing. A good read.
Sep 12, 2012 Pauline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I wanted to like this book more, but it felt . . . unfinished. I thought there was a lot more that could have been delved into and, though it covered a lot in terms of the characters, it still felt like it was just scratching at the surface. I also found the mother to be unlikeable. I wanted to sympathize with her, but couldn't and that may also be due to my perceived superficiality of the storyline. Sadly, I just thought the author could have done a lot more with this promising storyline.
Mar 20, 2012 Cindy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book went nowhere fast and I quit reading it when I realized that. A middle-aged mentally challenged woman whose husband has died is visited by her teen-age niece and they go on simple little adventures around their city. It was boring, bland, and not in the least interesting.
Jul 07, 2008 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
endearing account of family, threading through generations and histories til arriving full circle from front to back, the span of only a single day serving the main attraction of the book with first-person memory chapters diving for character insight.
Apr 06, 2008 Kristin is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
They don't have a "never finished" column. This is one of those books for me. I just couldn't get into it.

And I SO wanted to get into it because it's actually set in Los Angeles! Will someone else read it and then tell me if it's worth it? Ha ha...
Jun 06, 2015 Pcox rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't bad but the mental illness perspective was not really what I wanted to read about.
Amy Arsenault
Boring. Skipped around a lot without much of a pattern. The end was anticlimactic and unsatisfying. I didn't really get to know the characters. In general it felt underdeveloped. Don't bother with this one.
Mar 02, 2013 Marion marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Had a hard time finishing the book. It went nowhere fast, and moving back and forth across time destroyed what little momentum it did have.
Nov 27, 2009 Jspedal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oops, I think I wrote my review of this book under the book titled The Other. The upshot is I didn't really care for either book.
Koby Schellenger
I like the writing & the characters in this story but wasn't terribly impressed by the complete story.
Mar 27, 2008 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Karen Bender is a wonderful writer. This novel is carefully crafted, touching, and insightful.
Mar 22, 2013 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well written but one of those "slice of life" books where nothing really seems to happen.
Dec 21, 2008 Dinah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book and enjoyed getting to know the characters.
Feb 21, 2009 Colleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started it, but it didn't keep my interest at all.
Oct 14, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, I'm not thrilled. But we'll see...
Aug 10, 2012 Stacy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
weird...struggled to get through it
May 30, 2009 Sheffy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Jamie Harris-Gershon
Mar 04, 2016 Beth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Didn't hold my interest.
Sep 27, 2015 KayG rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sweet, thoughtful ...
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