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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
October 2012 > Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?: Second Half

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Jill Guccini This book was so full of Feelings and Things that, as I think I said in the first half of this book, I'm not even quite sure how to discuss it. What were your overall Feelings and Thoughts about it? As someone who is NOT adopted, I found the revelations throughout, but particularly towards the end, on adoption in general compellingly interesting--the idea of the "lost loss." What would you want to do if you were in her shoes--would you have found Ann? Would you have wanted to let her be your mother, become her daughter, as Jeanette didn't really feel a desire to do? What were your feelings on the end--that last sentence?

Amy (folkpants) (Folkpants) | 50 comments It's been weeks since I've finished this book and I still can't organize my emotions about it. First of all, I love how honest Jeanette is about everything. Even the most difficult parts of her life. I think that honesty in her writing is one of the reasons I can be so emotional about it. And also, in a way, one of the reasons I love her other work.
What I find interesting about the second half of this book is that now, Jeanette is relatively free of Mrs. Winterson. She is going to Oxford, she learns she is a feminist and what that entails, she has found success with Oranges. Yet it is also this period in her life where she truly seems the most lost. The battle with a suicide attempt and the almost schizophrenic like state it leaves her in, the need to find the missing piece of her life (her mother) and the excruciating difficult process that this is. In a word, we see Jeanette come undone. I think the way that it is written reaffirms the idea that you can't escape your past or the factors of your life that made and led you to this point. You try to overcome them as best you can, but you can't escape. Jeanette thinks finding her mother will be the way she will overcome her past. However, that doesn't happen. Ann is the mother that Jeanette always wanted, and always wanted Mrs. Winterson to be. She is accepting, unconditionally loving, proud of her. Yet, interestingly enough, as soon as Ann tries to criticize Mrs. Winterson, Jeanette defends her. "She was a monster, but she was my monster." It's a contradiction and confusion that Jeanette continues to come back to. I like how Jeanette doesn't try to understand these feelings exactly, but turns them into a question of love. Loving, love seems to be the most important thing to her, really. And as her girlfriend points out, Jeanette is very loving, she can love. But she cannot yet allow others to love her. Jeanette leaves us open to and undecided about the future. And I think in a way, "I have no idea what happens next" is just telling us that you are still trying and looking your whole life for what you need. It doesn't stop where you think it should, but continues on. Jeanette will continue to look for love.

Melissa Nestor (melissanestor) | 5 comments I just finished this book and wow...... I can't believe how Jeanette takes you from one emotion to the other with the turn of the page. In the first half of the book I was a little put off by her overly descriptive writing styles and obsession with analogies, but then I realized that it is in her personality to write that way. In the end, I felt as if the way she wrote made me understand who she was as a person. This is one of the only books I have ever read where I actually felt that I could really relate to the author and actually feel the emotions that she writes about. It's all because of things that I have felt before. From the feeling of rejection because of her sexuality to her sense of humor and from her feeling of self hatred to eventual feeling of loving herself and loving life. I feel like I have evolved much of the same way she has as a person and reading this book has made me feel like i'm not alone.
I am so glad that Jeanette eventually found her mother. She had to go through hell to get there but I'm very happy for her.

Karen A. | 13 comments I finished the book a couple of days ago. I have so many feelings about it.
First of all I'm impressed with Jeanette's honesty on such personal issues. I can't find the right words to describe how I feel about Mrs. W. I try to think that maybe deep down she wanted to love Jeanette, but her prejudices, her depression,made it impossible.
Even Jeanette's feelings towards Mrs. W range from hatred to saying to her real mother Ann "she was a monster, but she was MY monster" which could mean that she was trying to find some sort of forgiveness.
I think it was obvious that she wanted to find her birth mother. I think if she had been a happy child maybe she wouldn't have felt the need to look her up. What seems interesting is that Ann appears to be the kind of mother Jeanette would have wanted, but at the same time she (Jeanette) rejects her.
Answering Jill's question about what would I do if I were in Jeanette's shoes, I think I would have let Ann be my mother.
Overall I enjoyed reading the book, there were certain parts that I found too disturbing or too painful (the "exorcism" for instance), but I'm still glad this book was picked.

Wendy | 1 comments I just finish reading this book, very behind my reading these days. But I have to share that I am very surprised to resonate with so many feelings that Jeanette has described even though we are not similar in anyways. =)
The sentence that hit me the most was the one Karen quoted. "she was a monster, but she was MY monster" this sums up so much of those anger that I had. I am happy that she found her mother, I believe that she will one day, will learn to be love and accepts her.

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