Searching for Normal
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.
by Alison Neuman
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.
The nurse helped me into a wheelchair and I was wheeled down the long hallway once more. I felt like the world was spinning. Mom did her best to give me peace of mind and explain to me why the surgery was so important; I knew that the doctors wanted to help me but it didn't make things easier. Dr. Sweetheart, who had seen me before, greeted me in the hallway. He knelt down, held my hand, and listened to my thoughts and fears. Never once did he talk down to me or belittle me. In those few moments where he treated me the respect I so craved, meant so much; the disease had stolen my confidence and that act of respect helped to restore some of it.
In the operating theatre everything was draped in cloths. A tray with various silver surgery instruments sat to my left as I lay on the table. Everyone in the room wore the tell-tale shower caps and masks typical of surgical ward. My ankle was swollen, inflamed, and painful and at that moment I allowed myself one last glare at the entity that had caused me such grief. My eyelids grew heavier and rather than fighting to stay awake I surrendered to the peaceful darkness. When I awoke back in my room, Mom was sitting at the end of the bed reading a book. She looked up, smiled, and came over to the bed and gave me hug. I knew everything would be okay.
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.
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