Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: All But Normal

All But Normal 

Trigger warning: Domestic Abuse 

I want to admit going into this memoir I didn't think I would like it. In the end, I loved it 

This is an emotionally charged, roller coaster, thought provoking memoir. One that will stick with me for years. I enjoyed the way the story was told even if it was on a tough topic. This book is about domestic violence. It is one man's personal account of what his family went through. I couldn't believe the experiences the entire Thornton family lived during their lives. 

The writing style brings humor and fun to a topic that is extremely dangerous. At points in the book, I would be laughing, and enough the stories told, then the next I would be afraid, angry, and at times mortified by the abuse I was reading. My heart ached for the family. 

What is interesting is that this is also the story of what it is like growing up with a mother who has Traumatic Brain Injury. The author Shawn Thornton's mother was a bag of mixed emotions at times. One minute she was the sweet, loving, perfect mother we all want, then with the switch of a flip she would be yelling cuss words, screaming, and at times wielding weapons. Even though there is a reason for this, she was injured it didn't help the trauma a childhood like this created. 

 This was all really hard for Shawn to deal with. When he was a young boy, he believed that this was all normal. This is how mothers act. As he got older, developed friends, went to other people's houses he soon realized that was not normal. Even with all this trauma Shawn still credits his parents for making him the man that he is today. 

Shawn's mother had a love of Christ, she was a believer and often showed great compassion for people. Growing up in a Christ-centered house would put him on the track to becoming a Pastor, giving his life to God, and ultimately trying his best to show that same compassion to people.

Ultimately this book's message is one of hope. Hope that no matter what you have experienced in life, if you hold on to what you believe in, you can get through it. Learning to be mentally healthy and overcome the greatest of challenges. This book encourages taking small by significant positive steps in your life. Just because you have been dealt a bad hand, have a mountain to climb doesn't mean that you can't be a shining light for people. 

Disclaimer I did receive this from Tyndale House Publishers for free in exchange for this post as a part of their Tyndale Blog Network. 

Goodreads Description: 

Growing up, Shawn Thornton's life was anything but normal--but then, so was his mother.

After waking from a coma following a car crash, Beverly Thornton's 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 Bev's difficult 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

About the Author: 

Shawn Thornton serves as Senior Pastor of Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. He is also the Bible teaching voice heard daily across America on the half-hour radio program, “All Things New.” 

Shawn has the honor of serving on the Board of Directors of Awana Clubs International and on the Board of Directors of the Joni & Friends Foundation. 

He blogs regularly at Shawn and his wife, Lesli, have three young adult children—Jon, Katie, and Megan.

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