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Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines
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Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  94 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Confessional and often hilarious, in Normal Sucks a neuro-diverse writer, advocate, and father meditates on his life, offering the radical message that we should stop trying to fix people and start empowering them to succeed

Jonathan Mooney blends anecdote, expertise, and memoir to present a new mode of thinking about how we live and learn—individually, uniquely, and with advantage/>
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 13th 2019 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  94 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This is an interesting and thought-provoking book that at times is flat-out disturbing. The author posits that we are “surrounded by institutions, systems and cultural practices that demand and enforce, ‘normalcy’.” In other words, we are in an age of constant judgment, seeking to align us with or outcast us from the normative. But how useful is this? Why are we so obsessed with labels which subsequently shame those who fall outside the lines of normal? Should reframing the way we think about di ...more
Alicia Bayer
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The subtitle of this book is a bit misleading, as it's not really about how to live, learn and thrive outside of what society deems normal. Instead, this is mostly a memoir by a man who grew up with several so-called learning disabilities (ADHD, dyslexia, etc.) and who grew up in a decidedly "outside the box" family. While parts of it are certainly entertaining and even funny, parts are also sad and infuriating. It is also a diatribe against a society that has embraced eugenics and is destroying ...more
Sarabi Eventide
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In Normal Sucks, Mooney explores the origin and meaning of "normal" and discusses the process by which we internalize normality, to the detriment of our mental (and sometimes physical) well-being. He also writes that he did not achieve success "despite" his learning differences, rather, he believes he was successful because of them and warns against treating learning differences as something that is automatically negative.

The most poignant moment in the essay (this book is set up lik
C. S.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I feel like I should dock at least a star because, as other reviews have pointed out, the subtitle of this book is misleading, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

I was expecting a fluffy, light self help book with just enough disting of pop science as to make it bearable. That is not this book.

This book digs deep, pulls no punches, and takes no sh*t. It also approaches its subject matter with a delicate yet irreverent sense of humor and joy that made it a true pleasure to read.

Highly reco
Sarah Hyatt
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Five star message, but the format/voice of this book lost something for me. It was too conflicted between memoir, nonfiction, and letter to future kids (I feel like this started randomly halfway through, but it’s possible I overlooked it at the beginning).

Worth reading for the content and message, though.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved so much about this book. How Mooney addressed the book to his own kids. How it dived into the disturbing history of normality and what it means to be "normal". How honestly and openly Mooney discussed his personal journey of breaking free from the constructs of normality. How damn funny he was despite all the totally fucked up shit (note: there was a lot of sad, depressing fucked up shit). How deeply it made me reflect on my job and how my students must feel every day--and how can I ensu ...more
Aimee Powelka
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought maybe I could read this book to my kids since the author wrote it to his sons. But it’s written for adults. I had a hard time at first emotionally- he shares some terrible treatment stories of some disabled kids. And the horror of the eugenics movement was really tough but I’m glad I read it - very eye-opening to see how American science unfortunately influenced Nazi Germany. I had never thought of “normal” as something created by people but Mooney clearly shows that is the case. And t ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love Jonathan's writing style. I couldn't put this book down. If everyone would read this book and ponder all the points he makes about getting rid of the idea of "normal", this world would become a much safe, more humane place. We would figure out how to value all kinds of differences and change the "disability" and "handicapped" labels.
I love the way Jonathan tells his own story and interweaves his research on various topics related to what normal is and how it came about. Some of the re
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I bought this at an event where the author was speaking. His story is at its best where he talks about his own heartbreaking experiences from not fitting in to the traditional education system due to his dyslexia and ADHD. The parts that diverge into the history of constructing “normal” gets a little harder to get through, but it’s all relevant to Mooney’s mission and purpose to point out that there is no normal and insisting on trying to be normal can cause great harm to those that are differen ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Both inspiring and infuriating, Normal Sucks is part a history of the pursuit of normal and a memoir about all the ways Jonathan Mooney was failed by the education system and a society that is addicted to the unreachable goal of normal. As the mother of a son who has been labeled not normal, the author's story is both terrifying and ultimately triumphant. It isn't a guide on "How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines" but more one example of how a person who is labeled as disabled can ove ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The title pulled me right in. I am one of those that live outside the lines. In some ways it's not by choice, but in otheres, it certainly is. I'm learning all this in my later sixties! This is a continual learning. Sometimes I take that step forward and then two staps back, but the great part is to continue to learn about myself and not give up. A long time ago, I could not make that statement and mean every word. Borrowed from the library, but this is one of these books fro my personal library ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At once horrifying, entertaining, funny, enlightening, sobering, educational, uplifting, and validating. This book entered my life when I needed it the most and it changed everything. It dropped a big missing piece into my puzzle that helped me to join many other divergent pieces. It gave me permission to feel a peace I’ve never felt before.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
As a special education teacher, I believe there is a huge balance between finding a student's strengths and accommodating their needs and preparing them for a system where they will sometimes need to stay inside the lines. It is great to hear perspectives from people who are challenged from not fitting perfectly in the system.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Starting from the question almost every parent has to answer at some point, "Why aren't I normal?", Mooney uses his own experiences to build a framework around "normal" and how it is determined. Studied for hundreds of years, humans have tried to find the norm of canceling from our physical selves to our sex lives. But during that study, many scientists have discovered that their is no one person who can completely match the definition.
This definitely reads like a speech that has been adap
Ann-Elin Gálik
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jeg leste denne på en halv dag, og syns den oppsummerer fint utfordringer som samfunnet har med å inkludere dyslektikere, mennesker med AD/HD og generelt sett alle som faller litt utenfor "normalen". Anbefales spesielt til alle som jobber i skolen.
Josh Maulucci
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Funny, moving, and filled with provocative incite into how we humans treat each other.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very well written, it just wasn't what I was looking for.
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Engaging, important!
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is everything I needed to hear and wish someone had said to me 20 years ago.
Beth Wessel-Kroeschell
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for anyone working with children.
Amazing! if you strive to be normal, then this book is the book for you.
Gregg R.
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Interesting. I have a family history of dyslexia so it was good to read his life story.
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Oct 17, 2019
Zach Metler
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