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Amy S > YA Contemporary Realistic Fiction

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Amy Stevens | 26 comments Hmmmm

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Amy Stevens | 26 comments Waiting for NOrmal by Leslie Connor is about a young girl whose mom is very irresponsible. Often the mom, affectionately called, "Mommers," leaves Addie alone, without food and in terrible living conditions. The beginning of the novel starts with Mommers and her current husband Dwight separating. Dwight drops the two off at a trailer home and says it's all set up for them.

Dwight says he doesn't want to leave Addie, but he's not her biological father and Mommers holds that over him stating he can't take Addie away from her too. Dwight does have two younger daughters with Mommers and so he elects to keep the girls away from their mother.

The novel shows Addie fending for herself. She perseveres and makes friends with a local convenient store owner and her husband. Addie's afternoons are spent there while her mother is out abusing drugs and is often no where to be seen.

Dwight continues to keep in touch with Addie and even takes her for some visitation. Mommers then starts to refuse to let Addie go causing more friction and negative feelings. Who wouldn't feel resentment?

Mommers and Dwight divorce, she quickly meets another man and is pregnant. While out one night, the trailer burns down and Family Services steps in, finally realizing just how bad things have been for Addie. She is temporarily placed with her paternal grandfather. The caseworker asks Addie what she wants and she responds, "I just want normal. I want to live with my sisters and my Dwight." Months later, Dwight brings adoption papers to Addie and the novel ends.

I could not put this book down. Adoption has touched my life as we have adopted children. While reading this I thought about how many children spend years fending for themselves, like Addie, before someone steps in on their behalf. Even then, other things have to happen for adoption to occur.

In my new teaching assignment, I think of the many things my 9 and 10 years have to do to take care of themselves.

Another realistic fiction piece I love is Kimichi & Calamari by Rose Kent. The novel is also about adoption, but a teen who was adopted as an infant from South Korea. Joseph Calderaro is the main character.

He is interested in finding his Korean birth family and through some internet social networking sites, thinks he has stumbled on to a relative here in the U.S.

Joseph struggles with his identity as many teens do, whether adopted or not. He also tries to figure out the fusion of his worlds: Korean vs. Italian. He writes some pretty hurtful things while blogging that his parents discover.

The tumultuous time in his life does lead Joseph to an understand that it is not one heritage against another, but two beautifully fused into one.

I like this novel because for me it is personal and I can easily relate. It provides perspective when my own children may one day question or struggle with their identities and a desire to find their birth families. As a mom, it gave me insight to help my children navigate this time in their life if it happens to arise. Not all adoptees struggle with identity.

As a teacher, this provided insight into how some of my students may feel if they are adopted. Sometimes when we assign things like a family tree, we forget how some students started with roots in one spot and were transplanted to another spot.

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