By: Zahra Jons
Publisher: Dreampunk Press
Publication Date: April 2020
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Ah...high school. To me, The Breakfast Club was the ultimate way to explain this time in our lives; and, to this day, I still believe that each one of us did fall into one of the six “categories” of kids that movie focused upon. It’s a rough time, a trying time, a time to learn and fret and basically just be angry having to wait within those walls for so many years before being able to really experience life.
However...after reading this fantastic book, and that’s not an over-exaggeration, I must say that I understand high school a bit more now. I actually feel a bit guilty for my overabundance of whining during that time period, and I regret some things that I could have enjoyed but chose not to during those four years. Why is that? Because in this book I met a brave, weathered, frightened, strong, amazing girl who had it a heck of lot harder than I did. This unforgettable plot opens readers up to the world of “Cat.” This is a teen who loathes high school, like the majority of us, but now actually wishes she could go back to hating it simply for the same reason we all did. But Cat can’t do that now. You see, Cat has a very adult problem she has to deal with; high school may have been vile, but being diagnosed with cancer is even worse.
Cat wants to be unique. She had a boyfriend, Jet, who she loved but most likely stayed with him at times because her dad simply didn’t like the guy one bit. She gets the lectures that all kids get from their loving (pain-in-the-butt-they-just-don’t-understand) parents on a weekly basis, as well. But when lymphoma is laid at Cat’s doorstep, those big, annoying things now seem quite small. She must get treatments and sit in the hospital for weeks. She has to step away from the one thing she’s really good at which is rowing for the crew team, and she has to listen to her mother now change their conversations from the horrible clothes she wears to finding a support group that could help Cat through this trying time. In other words, Cat has a whole new normal that she definitely didn’t deserve.
Even though her love stays by her side and tries to help, the pain of it all is something that is quite easy to see. Like a darkness that comes over you, the regular, everyday bad things in life seem to have no weight anymore. Even the sibling scenes between Cat and her sister are altered, and readers will feel that change and the sorrow that goes along with it. After all, we like being a pain to our siblings, but once illness is involved the relationship takes on a nicer tone, making it even more difficult for Cat to deal with; in a way, she feels like everyone’s demeanor has changed towards her and eyes are looking at her differently, which is the last thing she wants.
The journey Cat continues to take is filled with finding the strength needed to get through school, deal with love and breaking up while figuring out your first real relationship, getting the grades in order to pass, etc. The rules remain the same. But watching someone have to do this while also traversing the problems and absolute fear that comes from cancer, treatments, wondering what the future will bring and even if there is a future awaiting Cat, pulls at a reader’s heartstrings while they become embedded in this teenager’s life.
YA and teen reads, as I have stated before, have become a big market because the stories have been a huge success. This is one that I love because there are no witches and warlocks, magic, or vampires falling in love. This is one that’s all about reality that becomes even more real for a character named Cat who, as she did with me, will engage readers from beginning to end.
Quill says: A great read that is captivating, well-written, and dares to be different — making it a powerful success.
For more information on Waiting for Normal, please visit the publisher's website at: www.dreampunkpress.com