by Alison Neuman
Searching for Normal is a book about following in the great tradition of creative nonfiction. Detailing her personal experience from the onset of a rare and painful illness at the age of three, Alison Neuman recounts her personal journey coming to terms with an ever-shifting conception of ‘normality’. The disease having shaped her life in ways most could never imagine, a carefree childhood quickly morphed into a blur of ongoing hospitalizations, increasingly reduced mobility, and overwhelming fatigue and pain.
But amidst her constant battles with her health, Alison emerged as a champion. Searching for Normal will leave readers awed by Alison’s perseverance and strength of character. Her story serves as a pertinent reminder that ‘normal’, is in the eye of the beholder.
Meet the author:
Alison Neuman lives in Alberta, Canada, where she works as a freelance writer. Nearing the end of her studies at Grant MacEwan College, she was inspired to complete the first draft of Ice Rose: A Young Adult Spy Novel. The YA novel integrates her love for gadgetry with the broad imaginative license afforded by the secret agent genre, and features a female protagonist in a wheelchair. It was published in 2010 by Fireside Publications.
Alison’s work has appeared in MacEwan Today, Westword, and the Edmonton Journal as well as on three tracks of the CD release, Outside The Window, and as a credit on the script for Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s screenplay adaptation of Whale Song. She was also an “Edmonton Stories’ top-ten finalist, a winner in the “Expressions of Hunger” in the Emotional Poetry Category (2009), and a nominee for the Northlands Award for Emerging Artist (2012), Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award, and Avenue’s “Top 40 Under 40.”
Alison was also honoured in 2011 for her human rights work in advocating for the rights of the disabled. One of her greatest achievements is an integrative camp she started for children from all walks of life—both with and without disabilities. Camp Mission Access uses a secret agent theme and activities as children of all abilities complete mission activities. Since 2010, she has been a member of iDANCE Edmonton, performing regularly. A musical version of Searching for Normal, will debut at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in August 2013.
Alison is currently working towards her Master of Arts at Athabasca University and, when time permits, completing her next YA novel.
A classmate approached me and asked me to race her. There’s something about racing when you’re a child, that’s just irresistible, and with the teacher’s voice in my head telling me that it would be good for me, I gave in, thinking what harm could come from participating in just one normal activity.
“Ready. Set. Go!” she yelled. We both took off running. My heart was racing. My body was jolted every time my feet landed on the hard concrete. The breeze blew through my hair and for just one moment, I felt free – the same kind of freedom you get when you hit the peak of height on the swings. I turned my head to see where the girl was, and she was a distance behind me, and then … my foot stuck on something on the tarmac.
I lost my balance and gravity took hold. My weak fingers and hands reached out to brace myself against the fast-approaching ground, knowing that they would soon make contact. First my knees cracked onto the uneven rocky tarmac; then my elbows slammed into the ground gave under the weight of my body. My body did little to cushion the speed of my impact; and next my forehead slammed into the tarmac – the sound of the contact echoing in my head. Pain shot like a bolt throughout my body.
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