My Book Review: All But Normal
Are you looking for a compelling story of love? Sometimes, life’s greatest challenges and rewards come in ways we least expect. In “All But Normal” you will take a rollercoaster ride with your emotions, but thankful for the ride.
“All But Normal” by Shawn Thornton opens the door and invites readers in to experience life with someone who struggles daily with mental illness. Thornton shares the highs, lows, challenges and victories of life with his mom. A car crash in her teens changed her life forever, and Thornton shares the all but normal life he experienced with a mother who struggled with violent mood swings and mysterious physical handicaps. Reading his story, it’s clear to see how the verbal abuse and unstable home life he endured would have shaken anyone.
His story, though at times heart wrenching, also offers hope to the reader as Thornton constantly points out the good and the blessings received during his roller coaster childhood. Thornton speaks fondly of his mom as he navigates through her illness, noting his mother’s dedication to reading God’s Word, attending church and teaching others. This contrast constantly reminded me of the verse: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
Thornton’s story challenged me to see others through God’s eyes. We never know the struggles family members are going through behind closed doors. One of the gifts Thornton mentioned was his mother having the ability to relate to people who were different. She could walk into church and connect with people who might otherwise feel like outcasts. People felt comfortable talking to her, because they knew she could relate to their struggles. Thornton explains how his mother would come to him after he became a pastor and share about people in his church who were struggling and needed prayer, people who might not have shared their story with anyone else. In the midst of the hardship in her own life, this was such a beautiful gift.
So often we look at those who are different than us as the person with the problem, but “All But Normal” challenges us to see differently and invest in the lives of those around us, even those we may not understand. Thornton spoke of people who would befriend his mom, only to fade out of her life weeks later because of the extra time and effort it took to help her into the car, pick her up from her house, etc. I think of the difference simple acts of kindness could have made in this story, and can make in the lives of those around me. I highly recommend this book to others as I believe it will give you a new perspective on the life of someone who struggles with mental illness and the challenges it brings to a family. It is also a call to action for each of us to serve and love others as God does for each of us regardless of our personal circumstances. Thornton’s story also demonstrates who we often see as broken, God sees perfect.
[FCC Compliance: Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review]