After waking from a car crash induced coma, Shawn Thornton's mother Beverly wasn't the same. Her normally sweet and gentle disposition had been replaced with violent mood swings, and fits of uncontrollable rage directed at her husband, and two sons. In this memoir, Shawn shares his side of the story growing up in a household filled with strife. Yet this same woman was also a devoted Sunday school teacher, Bible reader, and friend to the elderly and poor. In time, the Thornton family learns to cope with Beverly's new personality. A gritty coming-of-age story, All But Normal is a powerful reminder of a family's capacity for love in challenging circumstances.
Growing up, Shawn Thorntons life was anything but normalbut then, so was his mother.
After waking from a coma following a car crash, Beverly Thorntons once sweet and gentle disposition had been replaced by violent mood swings, profanity-laced tirades, and uncontrollable fits of rage. Inside the Thornton house, floors and countertops were piled high with dirty laundry and garbage because Bev was unable to move well enough to clean. Dinners were a Russian roulette of half-cooked meat, spoiled milk, and foods well past their expiration dates. A moment of frustration might prompt her to hurl a knife at Shawn, his brother, Troy, or their dad or to vehemently cuss them out, only to shower them with love and affection moments later as though nothing had happened. And God help the family cat!
On several occasions, Bev even tried to jump out of the car on the highway while Shawn and his brother struggled to keep her inside. Yet this same woman was also a devoted Bible reader, Sunday school teacher, and friend to the elderly, poor, and marginalized wherever she went. How the same woman could be a saint one minute and a nightmare the next was a constant source of frustration for the family. Then one day, after decades of embarrassing outbursts, a surprise discovery finally helps the Thornton family come to grips with Bevs mysterious condition and brings Shawn to a startling realization that changes the course of his life forever.
A heartwarming coming-of-age story, All But Normal is a powerful reminder that sometimes the broken people in our lives are the ones who need fixing the least.
A pastor examines his childhood living with a disabled parent. The authors mother, Beverly Bev Mae Thornton, grew up in a modest family in Indiana. Warm, charismatic, and smart, she began, at age 16, to go out with John Thornton, a wealthier boy with a new Corvair. One night, they were in a terrible traffic accident, which would mark the rest of their lives with unanswered questions. Thornton, with co-author Kilpatrick, re-creates this time as if Thornton was actually there for his future mothers painstaking recovery. She was left with limited motor skills and had violent mood swings that left her groveling painfully on the floor before her sisters. Racked with guilt, John slowly pushed his way back into her life and toward a shared future that perhaps they never really wanted, Thornton writes. All this carefully lays the groundwork for the story of his own experiences with his mother, primarily during his middle school years. He had a loving home life, but his mothers disabilities also made it tumultuous, and he renders it all with the complexity it deserves. There are no easy answers to the difficulties surrounding disabilities, and Thornton and Kilpatrick reinforce that idea with each new story of embarrassment or, sometimes, terror. Well-balanced narration shows how the young Thornton slowly came to understand just how disheveled and odd their house was, particularly as his mothers rage and erratic behavior intensified, he says, to include flying plates and threats with scissors. These moments are matched with equal instances of support, tenderness, and humor that help make Thorntons home feel relatable; it also plays well into the narratives overall goal as a Christian testimony of faith. Although the author says that living with his mother brought constant surprises, he also writes, It never struck me as strange that the woman holding scissors over us...was also my greatest example of what it means to live and love like Jesus. A religious debut memoir that carefully brings an engaging, complex family to life.
Told against the background of his mothers mental illness, Shawn Thornton shares his coming-of-age story in All But Normal.
A window into the masked realities of mental illnessa rare, untold perspective on the tempestuous nature of family life from behind closed doorswhere a mothers psychological and physical debilitations wreaked havoc throughout the dysfunctional childhood home in which her son grew up. This memoir also looks at how he came to embrace the underrated value of brokennessand what led him to the profound life lesson that, when it comes to family, normal is a relative term. A heartwarming coming-of-age story, All But Normal is a powerful reminder that sometimes the broken people in our lives are the ones who need fixing the least.
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