Bronwyn Mcloughlin's Reviews > Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
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May 30, 2012

really liked it



A powerful book, very disturbing childhood, and while I don't suggest for a minute that it was in any way justified, it did create in her a wonderful literary drive. There are episodes of great compassion - her English teacher giving her a room to live in while she studied. But the dysfunctionality of her family life has left a legacy in her difficulty in relating to other people, in understanding and navigating shared spaces in your life. Her father is at once someone who wanted to do better by her, yet unable to withstand the demands of loyalty his disturbed wife insisted on. A sadness to me in the narrowness of the world view espoused by the faith community her parents were involved in. Yet her involvement in faith armed her with the historical literary tools to navigate classic literature. I love her discourse on literature and her discovery and exploration of it. And her mother needed help - she might have been demented and seemed cruel, but she needed help however hard it might have been to convince her of that. The ramifications of her untreated psychosis have been horrendous for all involved. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author, which gave the voice an added piquancy because of its real involvement in the events described. A fascinating tale.
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