Welcome to this month’s edition of The Stellar Review, the place where I eagerly introduce you to indie authors in the hope their works will find a new home on your bookshelf.
This month, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Practicing Normal, the new novel from Cara Sue Achterberg.
The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia. The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by. And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face. Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners.
The Turners are a married parents, two children and a dog kind of family, living anonymously in their suburban existence. Kate Turner is a mother and former ER nurse forced to leave behind the job she loved to juggle the responsibility of caring for her aging mother, her son with Asperger’s Syndrome, her unfaithful husband and their spikey teenage daughter who’s lost respect for them both.
The book follows the Kate, her daughter Jenna and husband Everett as the delicate stays of their relationships fracture and we peek beneath the veneer of this modern dysfunctional family. Kate tries valiantly to maintain normal family life even when it becomes clear that doing so increases heartache in every direction, especially her own.
This story tackles many delicate issues across the cast of characters and the author does so by allowing you to experience raw reactions and inner most thoughts in the first person. The storylines are compelling and you may find yourself identifying with more than one of them as you steam through the book – I say steam as you won’t want to put it down for too long, you’ll be longing to catch up with the Turners and their medley of issues.
Beautifully written, Practicing Normal is a captivating reminder that you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. The admonition ‘before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes’ certainly rings true here.