Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience” as Want to Read:
Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  524 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Clinical psychologist and author of The Defining Decade, Meg Jay takes us into the world of the supernormal: those who soar to unexpected heights after childhood adversity.

Whether it is the loss of a parent to death or divorce; bullying; alcoholism or drug abuse in the home; mental illness in a parent or a sibling; neglect; emotional, physical or sexual abuse; having a
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by Twelve
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Supernormal, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Supernormal

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  524 ratings  ·  68 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I pick up different books for different reasons. Some I choose because I'm ready to go on an extraordinary adventure. Others are chosen for as a way to escape into light, happy fun. Still others I choose with an eye towards learning, professionally or personally. This book about resilience was chosen with my "teacher brain" as a way to dig into psychological experiences my students may have, and tips to support them. Written by psychologist Meg Jay, this book relates stories and lessons from ...more
Shirley Revill
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Very well written audiobook but I must admit I struggled with this book.
Will try a paper back edition at a later date.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always loved survivors stories, and I guess that I finally have a somewhat explanation for why:

“The ‘normal man,’” concluded the Goertzels, “is not a likely candidate for the Hall of Fame.”

Through her book Dr. Jay tried to endow the reader with an insight of what it is like to be resilient, or more accurately that there is almost no one has it the easiest way in life... Adversities may vary but their impact is the same on our amygdala anyway, so why should it matter, if you grew up in a poor
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
It's going to be awhile before I find the right words for what I think about "Supernormal." So much to digest. It's a little overwhelming to be thrown into the lives of the resilient kids and the adults they become, heartbreaking, and hopeful. So, for right now, I'm going with... Wow.
Stephanie Thoma
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about their own childhood adversity and resilience, or the experience of a loved one. Jay writes in a thoughtful, comprehensive and conversational way that takes you from one page to the next, seamlessly.

Some notes that stood out:
- 75% of children of divorce say it changed them- 2x as likely to say their childhoods were cut short
- in a study of prisoners, the most predictive feature of long term suffering wasn’t the extent of abuse, but
Rita Arens
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting and entertaining read that reassures us we are not predestined to any behavior: “When I suggested to Jennifer that, once she had children, rather than becoming more understanding of her parents, she might find she is even less understanding of the choices they made, she began to cry with relief.” Zero reflection on my parents as parents, but much how I feel societally when (especially white old people) say, “That’s just how he was raised.” As a parent now, I say woman up. That’s BS, ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was a goodreads giveaway winner of this book. "Supernormal" is from is written by clinical Psychologist, Meg Jay. She writes of clients who have survived their childhoods. She lists many subjects of what her clients have gone through to make them "supernormal" Some of her clients had abusive parents or siblings, others had parents who divorced and rarely saw the other parent, she writes of clients whose parents were drug addicts or were mentally ill and many other obstacles they faced in ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Supernormal takes us on a journey through the lives of the authors patients. It shows us how many of the things we've gone through others have as well. It shows us that we aren't alone. It shows us we are resilient.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an EXCELLENT book.
Thoroughly interesting to look at adversity in a slightly different light.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
With things like trigger warnings and safe spaces, one wonders if resilience is being pushed into the background these days, when it should always be in the foreground. It’s the resilient who survive all odds, not those who need super special care and attention due to past adversities. Author Meg Jay looks at resilient individuals in this book, and tries to enlighten readers as to why some can overcome bad childhoods, while others seem unable to do so. Why were some superkids, who did well in ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
SUPERNORMAL, The Untold Story of Resilience, by Meg Jay, Ph.D is a profound, insightful look inside all of us.
I didn't expect this book to be the sort of book where I would find myself or members of my family. Possibly, neither will you. However, if you have had to have your guard up, have had to be brave, don't understand why you can't move forward in your life in certain areas, or are simply curious about human nature and why we do the things we do, read this magnificently researched,
Arion Williams
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was very helpful to see the other side of individuals that have been through a variety of negative experiences but find a way to survive. Before this book, I may not have ever viewed anyone as a supernormal, or superhero, because of their backgrounds. I felt very convicted of how I’ve judged people because of their “awkward” behavior without having the backstory. Adults are products of their experiences. I think that’s not revelatory but, this book opened my eyes to being more willing to ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I don’t know how to explain that I was really interested in this book and also really unimpressed by it at the same time. There was a lot of great information but something about the style was lacking. Especially considering how intriguing the subject matter was, I was surprised that I wasn’t more bowled over by the writing. I expected to be super engrossed in this book and recommending it to everyone I know and I do recommend it just because the information is really valuable to most people I ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
In the Defining Decade, I think Meg Jay used her professional experience to craft new insight into the Millennial experience of early adulthood. Supernormal, on the other hand, retreads a lot of ground on resilience, adverse childhood experiences, and survival adaptations without adding much new or exciting insight. A worthwhile read if you are looking for an introduction into the strengths and habits born of troubled childhoods, but not a great read for those who are already familiar with ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a must read for anyone who works with kids. Or anyone who has a troubled background or knows someone with one.... there is so much information to digest, I could only read one chapter at a time. I know it’s supposed to be heartwarming, these stories of triumph over adversity, but it really just made me sad because the struggle is hard and long for most kids coming from dysfunctional homes.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. I read it on my ereader, and felt like I was highlighting something on every second page.

The author bases her thoughts on numerous scientific studies, but instead of the book being riddled with citations, she specifically put them at the end of the book to make reading flow.

Absolutely fascinating and I highly recommend it to anyone who had adversities in childhood.
Fefe Monroe
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important read!

This was a very healing book. I suggest purchasing the hardcover so you can share it with others during tough times
Eddie Chua
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
What is supernomal? By paraphrasing the author it when someone display an almost otherworldly ability to adapt and succeed, in another words, having resilience. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or significant ongoing stressors. But what constitutes as adversity and actually how rare can it be? From the list of examples of 10 adversities given by author, she claims that 75% of american kids faced at least 1 ...more
Reid Mccormick
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-science
When you are a kid, it’s hard to understand what is normal. One moment I thought everything my family did was normal and everyone else was different. Then I became a teenager and I began to think everything my family did was weird and everyone else was normal. Later, in college, I began to understand that ‘normal’ is totally subjective and families are unique.

However, I soon learned that I grew up privileged. My family did not have a nice house and we had never had new cars, but I did have
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A stunning view of how childhood adversity can lead to resilient people. Each day every person is fighting their own battle, but what we do with that and how we choose to live our life can impact our path. Meg Jay writes about those individuals who face abuse, neglect, and hardship throughout their childhoods and how they are the Supernormals. They wear capes, fight fights, or help avenge. They are compared to modern day superheros. Jam packed with theoretical and statistical background and ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered Meg jay over Christmas on Ted talks and I found what she says on her interview so helpful for someone like me that has struggled since middle twenties with anxiety and depression. I've been in therapy for more than fifteen years, have studied counselling and have several times tried group/peer work on top of reading countless of books on mental health and self help, I have to say that this book summarises what I got from of all the work I've done and even offers many answers to some ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book.

I wish I could write more about what I appreciated about it, but this book was published by one of the big five publishing houses (see note below).

Note: I used togive full reviews for all of the books that I rated on GR. However, GR's new giveaway policies (Good Reads 2017 November Giveaways Policies Changes) have caused me to change my reviewing decisions. These new GR policies seem to harm smaller publishing efforts in favour of providing advantage to the larger companies (
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Full of stories of people who overcame major challenges in their youth, this book can't help but be inspiring. The analogy between these individuals and superheroes makes sense on some level, but I felt the recurring reference to this comparison kind of annoying.

Training for my role as CASA included many of the issues and coping mechanisms discussed here, but I did pick one new tidbit that I will keep in mind. Though there is a common belief that the telling of one's trauma is therapeutic and
Nathan Davis
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a non-fiction book, it’s pretty good. Not the deepest, not the best laid out, but pretty good.
As a piece of encouragement to keep moving forward in life, I love it. It’s a series of mostly anecdotal stories about various famous celebrities and how their childhoods trained them to do some really remarkable things as adults. Basically, the book could be summed up as, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

It also gives a different perspective on why many adults are drawn to careers in
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: solid, nonfiction
This book is about the inner lives of people who overcome terrible circumstances -- both the survival skills that allow them to thrive, and the feelings of fear, isolation, and guilt that may haunt them afterwards.

The standout aspect of this book to me was that the author didn't focus on one specific type of adversity, which seems to be the more common approach. Instead, she took all kinds of circumstances that can disadvantage someone's childhood and looked at what they all have in common.

Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this book fascinating and informative. I lived with quite a bit of adversity growing up and saw a lot of myself in many of the references. I have some favorite takeaways from this book. One is, most people love to help others and receive more than they give from doing that. I actually used this yesterday to plead with a friend out of state to reach out for help because she'll make others feel better if they can help her :-) I also was so pleased to hear that repeating cycles of ones ...more
Özgür Takmaz
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Giving a good childhood can be even better than receiving one!
75 years and 20 million dollars expense on the Grant study points: happiness is love. Full stop.
The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of desert by someone who has never been there.
Name it to, tame it.
What the detective sorry is about is not murder but the restoration of order.

I am solitary because I know things and I must hint at things which others do not know, and usually do not even want to know.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this from a GoodReads giveaway.
"Supernormal" is written by clinical Psychologist, Meg Jay. She writes about clients and what they have gone through to make them "Supernormal". These clients have had some sort of trauma in their younger years, such as abusive parents, loss of a loved one.
This book may help people who feel they can't get past certain things to move forward in life. It gives examples of strength and resilience.
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was obviously well researched and well written but I had to stop reading it because it was so upsetting and depressing. Every chapter told new horrors. Yes there was all kinds of scientific data and quotes and kid of explanations of how each person not only survived but thrived but honestly that seemed less the point than detailing - in great detail the abuses, etc. This book was too much for me. I need to read some serious brain candy to bounce back from this book.
Lily Li
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a new mom expecting the first child, I think this book is helpful. I am not under-stating the childhood adversity impact on children ‘s overall well-being. But born and raised as a farm girl and be the first person earning a college degree, I do think some hardships to a degree help children learn more and fairytale stories especially for building a stronger personality internally.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Midlife: A Philosophical Guide
  • Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
  • What's Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy
  • The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age
  • The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us
  • On Life
  • No Filter
  • Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life
  • Healthy Parenting: How Your Upbringing Influences the Way You Raise Your Children, and What You Can Do to Make It Better for Them
  • How to Be Miserable in Your Twenties: 40 Strategies to Fail at Adulting
  • A History of Pan-African Revolt
  • Pandora's Eyes (Alex Cave #5)
  • Truth over Fear: Combating the Lies about Islam
  • Stress-Free Small Talk: How to Master the Art of Conversation and Take Control of Your Social Anxiety
  • The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung | Conversation Starters
  • Summary: The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung
  • The Myth of the American Dream: Reflections on Affluence, Autonomy, Safety, and Power
  • Blood of the Fae
See similar books…
She is an clinical assistant professor at the University of Virginia and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Dr. Jay’s book, The Defining Decade, was a 2012 Staff Pick and her 2013 TED talk “Why 30 Is Not the New 20″ has been viewed more than 2 million times. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Forbes, Psychology Today, and
“Among the most supported theories is that what is actually most useful about telling our secrets goes further than simple stress release; putting our experiences into words helps us begin to make sense of our thoughts and feelings. Remember, especially for children, secrets are often the product of moments when we say to ourselves, if we say anything at all, “There are no words. I don’t know what to do with that. I don’t know where to put that.” What does it mean, then, to take a feeling or an experience and, literally, “put it into words”? Words are labels and categories. They are boxes that organize the scattered contents of our minds. So when we talk about our experiences we are sorting them out, whether we intend to be or not, just by putting them into places where they might fit. We are able to say, “There are words. I do know what to do with that. I do know where to put that.” The very act of doing so makes our most confusing or disturbing experiences more organized and understandable, and it makes them less scary and upsetting as well. Like P. D. James said about the detective story, putting feelings into words can be a restoration of order.” 1 likes
“One thing I have learned is that many, many people feel isolated with similar problems, unaware that they are not as alone or as different as they think.” 1 likes
More quotes…