Careful what you wish for
Eleven-year-old Charlie Harrisong has just one wish for his family to be normal. But much to his increasing embarrassment, they're far from it. For starters, they're poor, scraping by on his father's meager income doing odd jobs and living in an ugly, rented mustard-yellow brick house. Even worse than being poor, they're different Charlie knows it and is convinced everyone else does, too. Between his eccentric mom in her handmade patchwork dresses and his four loud, rambunctious siblings, his ever-present family provides no shortage of opportunities for embarrassment, especially around the popular kids from his class. When an ugly incident happens to his sister at school that confirms his worst nightmares, Charlie's world turns upside down overnight after his parents make a rash decision to relocate the family to the South and take up residence on a houseboat. What begins thereafter is a strange family odyssey that brings growth, challenge and awakening for all of the Harrisongs. In Deliver Us From Normal, author Kate Klise expertly places herself inside the mind of a cripplingly sensitive boy who is wise beyond his years but can't find the self-esteem he needs to come out of his shell. Written in a narrative voice that is painfully realistic, wholly original and laugh-out-loud funny, the book draws a convincing portrait of adolescent anxiety and of what it's like to grow up in a family that's slightly off-center. Another winning component of the book is the study in contrasts between Charlie and his sister Clara, who, despite their vast differences, share a close relationship. Free-spirited Clara is older by one year, seemingly fearless and full of self-confidence to spare, running for student council president and constantly embarking on her next big project. With plucky Clara as a role model and the occurrence of a frightening incident where Charlie helps save the day, he slowly gains confidence in himself and learns to appreciate his family's uniqueness. Most important of all, he comes to realizes that sometimes wishes come true, sometimes they don't, and Sometimes you find out you were wishing for the completely wrong thing.