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.
Book Rating: 8.5/10
Authentic, heartwarming, and intriguing!
This is a thought-provoking novel that reminds us that life is unpredictable and that when it comes to “normal” perspective is everything.
The story is told from three different points of view; Kate, a mother, wife and daughter who spends all her time and energy taking care of those around her; Jenna, a teenager struggling with hormones, individuality and new love; and Everett, a husband and father who is impatient, selfish, and too wrapped up in his own wants and needs to appreciate what’s right in front of him.
The prose is reflective and sincere. The characters, including all the supporting characters, are complex, strong, and endearing. And the plot is a compelling tale full of familial dynamics, friendship, infidelity, secrets, coming-of-age, honesty, humour, love, as well as an in-depth look into the stereotypical mentality, difficulties and extraordinary abilities that those with Asperger’s experience.
This is the second novel I’ve read by Achterberg and once again she has blown me away with this well-crafted, touching story that gives us a real, raw look into a contemporary multi-generational family.
About the Author:
Cara Sue Achterberg is a blogger and novelist who lives on a hillside farm in South Central, Pennsylvania.
Cara’s novels, I’m Not Her (August 2015, The Story Plant) and Girls’ Weekend (May 2016, Story Plant) are both works of women’s fiction. Her upcoming novel, Practicing Normal, will be published June 2017 by The Story Plant.
Cara is also the author of Live Intentionally, a nonfiction book based on ten years of trying to shop, cook, eat, and live intentionally with kids in tow. It’s a guidebook for the organic life.
Cara is a prolific blogger and currently posts regularly two blogs which can be accessed through her website, CaraWrites.com.
Cara teaches creative writing and her essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, national magazines, websites, and blogs, in addition to local media.
Cara grew up in Hockessin, Delaware (and still considers Delaware the best state of all).
Cara is passionate about organic food, clean air, productive gardens, uncluttered lives, and real relationships. She is also passionate about adopting rescue dogs and currently fosters dogs and puppies for the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes.
Cara’s next project is a memoir about fostering her first fifty dogs.
When not writing or weeding (which can sometimes be one and the same), Cara enjoys running, hiking, reading, visiting Virginia wineries, and trying not to fall off her favorite horse, True.
Thank you to Cara Sue Achterberg, the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
This novel is available now.
Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.
For more information on Cara Sue Achterberg, visit her website at: carawrites.com
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