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. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal.
Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.
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Why Women’s Fiction and Practicing Normal?
by Cara Sue Achterberg
Women’s Fiction has always been my favorite genre, even when it wasn’t officially a genre. I think women are more open to exploring what is happening in their hearts and how that impacts their lives, than men. We don’t need things to blow up—unless the explosion is necessary for the emotional growth of the characters. There doesn’t have to blood or crime or even sex (although sex tends to come up in women’s fiction).
Women are tuned into the little things—we read the funny look, the offhand comment, the excuses. It’s another level of communication that can be completely invisible to men. Little incidents—who was left off the guest list, a heavy sigh from a teenage daughter, a change of routine—these can spell trouble or danger. “It’s not a big deal,” is a comment much more likely to be emitted from a man than a woman, because often times the things that seem like they are not a big deal are the biggest deals. The little stuff matters to women.
Consequently, women’s fiction can be engrossing and heartrending without ever leaving the boundaries of a house or a generation. Women’s fiction tells the small stories of the heart. Women’s fiction knows that heroes are not all larger than life, and happy endings aren’t necessarily happy. Women’s fiction takes the reader on an emotional journey; it touches the heart. It makes us think about our own lives. It makes us look twice at the people around us and realize that they all have stories. Good stories.
Practicing Normal grew out of this belief – that we all have stories and secrets. Goodreads recently asked a question of all its authors—What mystery in your own life could be a plot line for a book? Goodreads occasionally tosses out these questions to inspire interaction between writers and readers. It was fascinating how many authors answered the question, but it wasn’t surprising. I bet if you thought about it, there’s a mystery or two in your own life that could inspire a book.
People are messy, complicated, emotional, petty creatures, but we are also quite capable of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and most importantly, empathy. I forgive my own children even as they shred my heart. I consciously love my husband even when he irritates the hell out of me. I hear judgment on my lips, even as I claim to accept. We are all brimming with contradictions. That’s what makes life so interesting, and that’s what makes a women’s fiction story so entertaining.
In Practicing Normal you might hate Everett for dabbling in adultery, but there’s much more to him than sex with a bimbo. He wants so very badly to love his wife and family. Jenna eschews the popular kids, but then finds herself falling for the most popular boy of all. And Kate, who suffers the humiliation heaped on her by her husband and mother in the hopes of attaining the normal she imagined, must finally face facts and claim for herself a new normal.
None of us are simple. There’s so much more here than meets the eye. That’s what makes women’s fiction so interesting. Heck, that’s what makes life so interesting.
“Does facing the truth beat living a lie? In PRACTICING NORMAL, Cara Sue Achterberg has given us a smart story that is both a window and a mirror, about the extraordinary pain ― and the occasional gifts ― of an ordinary life.”
– Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN
“What does it really mean to have a normal life? Achterberg’s stunning new novel explores how a family can fracture just trying to survive, and how what makes us different is also what can make us most divine.”
– Caroline Leavitt, author of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and the New York Times bestsellers PICTURES OF YOU and IS THIS TOMORROW
“PRACTICING NORMAL takes a deep dive into the dysfunctional dynamics of a ‘picture perfect family.’ A compelling story about the beautiful humanity in the most ordinary of lives: from first love to a marriage on the downward slide to an unexpected family tragedy. Achterberg handles each thread with tender care and we can’t help but root for every member of the Turner family.”
– Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of THE VANISHING YEAR
|Author:||Cara Sue Achterberg|
|Publisher & Date:||The Story Plant on June 6th 2017|
|ISBN:||1611882443 (ISBN13: 9781611882445)|
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Cara Sue Achterberg and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Girls’ Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2017 and runs through August 3, 2017. Void where prohibited by law.
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