Readers Write

From Patty Schabas, MD

Getting to normal is a poignant first novel that not only stands on its own as a piece of literature but is also a useful book to be read by all mental health practitioners working with children. It captures the spontaneous and creative inner life of a seven year old girl, Alice Redfern, with all her magical thinking and delightful misperceptions and misinterpretations. Unlike most dry books on child development, it depicts in an accurate but entertaining and vivid way the developmental stage of a latency age child.

The book would be of particular interest to kids who need to face hospitalization. It is ideal for reading aloud to the younger child to help him voice issues and concerns around the hospitalization. For the older child who reads on his/her own, it provides a focal point for parents to discuss the implications of his illness and treatment. At the same time, it helps provide an understanding for parents and siblings about what a hospitalized child may be thinking and experiencing.

On a broader scale, it is a book that helps kids recognize that no family is perfect and that parents can mean well but be limited in their ability to parent due to emotional difficulties of their own. The adults are far from perfect in this novel but they are not demonized and show the young reader how one youngster is able to survive and flourish in a less than ideal family situation. The book brings parents in touch with memories of their own childhood, reminding them of their own struggles as a child . In so doing it may help them better understand the needs of their own child and may motivate them to make positive changes to enhance their relationship with their child.

From Susan Goldberg, PHD

I work in a community of scientists dedicated to finding out why children misbehave. Yet in a few short hours Getting to Normal took me into the heart and mind of a troubled child in a way that research, no matter how brilliant, ever can. This poignant book made me wish that every pediatrician, nurse, mental health worker and yes, parent, would make this journey to see themselves through the eyes of an emotionally neglected 7-year-old looking for love.

From Paul Hogan, co-founder of the Spiral Garden. Currently artistic director of the Butterfly Garden, Battacloa Sri Lanka

Congratulations! This is a real feat of magic. It’s really something to see your dream become a story, become a book, with your picture in the back looking every bit the accomplished, and beautiful, author. And it’s really a miracle it got all the way through to my desk in Batticaloa. This is the first book ever that’s arrived for me in Batti. Usually I have them sent to Colombo, having had some disappointing experiences with the Batti mail. Also I’ve tried to send books from Batti and once, for Robbie, twenty of them from Colombo by sea mail. No go. They never arrived. But your book  has arrived safely and I really look forward to reading it.

So often I wonder what goes on in kids’ heads. Your muse has somehow allowed you in there. What a gift you have! I applaud you patience in the labour of writing and your sensitivity to the magical realm of childhood. I am so proud that  the Spiral Garden had a small part to play in getting you started. May you find the other tales in yourself that await telling and may you take a few moments to bask in the glory of this wonderful flowering.

All the best, with thanks for going through the trouble to send me the book -- your friend from the ‘non gloriam sine fortitudine’ school of garden paths

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