Some Kind of Normal
by Heidi Willis
I knew less than nothing about diabetes when I opened this book, and to be honest, didn't have much of an interest in learning. But I was immediately taken in by the story of Ashley, Babs Babcock's 12 year old daughter, who is slowly being eaten away by the disease. I became so entrenched in Babs' own desperate search for knowledge and understanding that I actually paid attention to all of the medical details, as if I might be able to help her myself.
From the moment this heart wrenching story opened, I fell in love with Babs, through the voice that Willis has given her. Willis has a tremendous gift of dialogue, and a way with dialect that I have seldom experienced. Babs is one of the most realistic literary voices I have ever read; there is no way to describe it but raw. And so human, it almost hurts. I often felt as though I were reading a dear friend's diary, instead of a novel. She puts up no pretenses, and apologizes for nothing, yet still manages to doubt herself more than she ever needs to.
The characters in Babs' life are remarkably true also; from Travis, her faith-bound husband, to Logan, her steadfast, yet wayward son, to Dr. Benton, her angel in disguise, Babs asks - no, demands - that we know them all as well as she does, and that we love them all with her same intensity. And she leads us to discover that the story isn't about diabetes at all, or about controversial research, or really even about faith. It's about the love a mother has for her children, and the strength we find within ourselves to get up every morning and hope again, when we're certain there's no hope left.
In moments of panic and desperation, Babs will make you laugh out loud with her honesty and absolute simplicity. But don't be fooled by her candid humor; you're going to need the Kleenex, too.
I love this book.
It wasn't one I would have chosen on my own, though. Heidi is friends with my friend Karma, and the last time they were together, Karma got me a signed copy. I started following Heidi's blog then, and we became cyber friends. Her book was still on my TBR list when I heard she was coming to visit, in RL! I thought, Crap! I better read that book! I don't want to be sitting there at the dinner table faking an intelligent conversation!
And I am so glad I did.