Normal? by Stephen J. MulrooneyPublished by Busterfly LLC
Blurb: “Were it a dream, it would be a most wondrous dream; but it’s more. It’s a life. And I don’t have to remember any of it. It remembers me.” With these words, Gene Poole-Hall takes us on a beautiful coming-of-age journey that will leave you questioning any preconceived impressions of the definition of normal, and lead you to the conclusion that when it comes to family, at the heart of the matter, it’s the heart that matters. Gene’s story begins with his adoption into an extended family that includes everything from a few drag queens to a well respected rabbi. If Gene’s life is anything but normal, he isn’t aware of it. He enjoys all the advantages of being an only child at the heart of a family of unrelated adults bonded together by mutual love and respect.
The core of Gene’s family is Mother, who is actually his biological uncle Ben. Mother is a bigger than life female impersonator whose warmth and compassion has attracted the most unusual extended family you will ever meet. Mother’s partner, Tom, whom Gene calls Dad rather than Uncle Tom for obvious reasons, is a Wall Street executive. Gene’s Uncle Josh, the rabbi, is Mother’s life-long best friend and first unrequited love interest. Gene’s aunts, Allie and Sue, whose lives are anything but a drag, are famous, if not infamous, drag queens from Mother’s band of performers. And that’s just the beginning of Gene’s family.
A sudden move to the suburbs and the unexpected addition of three new family members, Chip and Dale, an unusual set of twins, and Robbie, an attractive farm boy, soon add colors that Gene has never imagined, to his already colorful world. Travel through all the trials and tribulations of a young teen’s life as he explores all the joys, wonders and pitfalls of coming of age and experiencing the emotional and biological dramas and traumas of infatuation and love for the first time.
Review: Normal by Stephen J Mulrooney is anything but normal. Normally, in a gay fiction novel, you'd find a jaded, snarky narrator. Normally, you'd find sarcasm and meanness and humor at the expense of others. Normally you would not get a happily-ever-after ending (that just wouldn't be good literature). Normally, you'd find gay characters who were equally as masculine and butch as any straight character, because, as you know, there is really no difference between gay and straight people... those perceived differences are simply unfair stereotypes. Normally, you'd find political correctness and lots of big words you've got to look up in the dictionary (or just pretend you know the definition of).
No, there are none of these norms in Normal. Normal is remarkably, beautifully, memorably ABNORMAL. It's a story of a sweet adorable kid named Gene who has the most amazing family you'd ever meet. He has two fathers, one that he calls Mother. Mother's a drag queen, and he's very motherly. He rules the house with an iron fist and a heart full of love. Gene's Uncle Josh, a rabbi, is Gene's closest confidant, and he tells the most wonderful stories. Gene has three siblings, all also adopted. And his older brother Robbie is Gene's hero. He harbors a not-so-secret crush on him from the moment they lay eyes on each other.
This story is so magnificent, I just might have to go back and read it again. I laughed. I cried. And I kept turning the pages, until sadly there were no more. But believe me, that's the only disappointment I had with this book--that it didn't go on and on.
I loved the writing style. I loved the little stories within that Gene told. He was a writer, and every time something touched his heart, he'd write a story about it. The author used a lot of puns that made me smile and sometimes laugh right out loud.
Really, this book was like candy to me. It was such a treat, and if I could give it more than five stars, I certainly would. From a literary standpoint, I'm sure plenty of the experts will have lots to bitch about, but as a reader, it was absolutely perfect, and anything but normal.
Review by Jeff