Waiting for Normal

By: 

Leslie Connor

Number of Pages: 

290

Minimum grade level: 

5th

Sometimes parents just don't seem to "get it," especially when picking out clothes for their kids. Addie's mom, though, is even beyond "not getting it." Addie had clearly explained to her mom that she needed a black and white outfit for the concert, preferably black pants or a skirt and white t-shirt or simple blouse. Instead, her mom spent their non-existent money on a sexy dress - a dress that is not sexy on twelve-year old Addie - that'd be perfect for a senior prom. Addie can't even figure out how to cover it up, it's so ruffly.

Anyway, half an hour before the concert is supposed to start, Addie's mom still hasn't come home to the tiny trailer they live in. Addie is frantic. She's got a solo in the program, so she'll definitely be missed if she doesn't show up. She calls her stepfather, who no longer lives with her but is coming to the concert along with her little stepsisters. He races over to pick her up, and they arrive just in the nick of time, never hearing a word from her mom.

Addie looks over the arriving crowd and sees her music teacher from her old school. She panics. The old teacher can't see her here, especially with her flute. Her mom encouraged her to "borrow" the flute from her last school, but Addie knows it is really stolen. What will her old music teacher do when she sees it?

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Addie's mom talks often about the "Love of Learning." She tells Addie she doesn't have this ability. Yet Addie does love to learn in her own way. What are some of the activities Addie shows a talent for? What other activities does she learn through perseverance? How about you? How do you learn best?
  2. Addie, Soula, and Elliot have some interesting discussions about what makes a hero. What do you think, and do you have any heroes? Do you agree with them that people need heroes?
  3. Addie knows she wants to get to "normal," whatever that might be. At the end of the book, Addie tells Mommers that normal is being able to count on certain things, "like having everyone together because they belong that way." How would you describe normal?
  4. Addie's mother has seriously neglected her twice. Why then, does Addie shout at Grandio and tell him to quit saying mean things about her mother? Why is she right or wrong about this?
  5. Addie dreams of playing the piccolo. She starts out by playing the flute and while she's waiting to get a new flute, she decides to get an inexpensive Irish tin whistle so she can keep playing and keep her dream alive. Is her approach realistic? Do you have a goal like Addie?
  6. While Addie is neglected by one adult, many others care about her. Do you think Addie should have told them more of what was happening? What would you have done in her shoes?
  7. Addie and her friends at school are sometimes teased by other kids, such as when one of them gets the "deodorant" talk. Yet with each other, Addie and her friends are non-judgmental. What's your experience with bullies, and with friends who accept you as you are?
  8. Can you predict what might happen between Addie and her mom a year after the story ends?
  9. What sort of responsibilities should a twelve-year old girl have?

If you liked this book, try

  • Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
  • How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
  • Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voight
  • The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

Activities

Find music that goes with the story and create a playlist. A few possible songs to include: I Wonder as I Wander, (Sometime's You're the ) Bug, (Addie and Elliot dance to a country western song with very similar lyrics), and anything with a piccolo.

Snacks

Addie and her friends at the convenience store cheer themselves up with microwaveable pocket pies. Why not taste-test various flavors and vote on a favorite?