The BookBrowse Review

Published June 22, 2022

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Contents

In This Edition of
The BookBrowse Review

Highlighting indicates debut books

Editor's Introduction
Reviews
Hardcovers Paperbacks
First Impressions
Latest Author Interviews
Recommended for Book Clubs
Book Discussions

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Literary Fiction


Historical Fiction


Short Stories


Essays


Mysteries


Thrillers


Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Alt. History


Biography/Memoir


History, Current Affairs and Religion


Science, Health and the Environment


Travel & Adventure


Young Adults

Literary Fiction

  • Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (rated 4/5)

Thrillers


Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Alt. History


Extras
  • Blog:
    6 Novels for Book Clubs That Reflect on Reproductive Rights
  • Wordplay:
    T O Thing W H T F I F I
  • Book Giveaway:
    Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing
Book Jacket

Normal Family
On Truth, Love, and How I Met My 35 Siblings
by Chrysta Bilton
12 Jul 2022
288 pages
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Genre: Biography/Memoir
Critics:
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A riveting, nuanced portrait of unforgettable characters thrown together by chance and DNA, Normal Family is a story of nature, nurture, and coming to terms with one's true inheritance.

What is a "normal family," and how do you go about making one? Chrysta Bilton's magnetic, larger than life mother, Debra, yearned to have a child, but as a single gay woman in 1980s California, she had few options. Until one day, while getting her hair done in a Beverly Hills salon, she met a man and instantly knew he was the one she'd been looking for. Beautiful, athletic, artistic, and from a well-to-do family, Jeffrey Harrison appeared to be Debra's ideal sperm donor.

A verbal agreement, a couple thousand in cash, and a few squirts of a turkey baster later, and Chrysta was conceived. Over the years that followed, Jeffrey would make regular appearances at the family home, which grew to include Chrysta's baby sister. But how much did Debra really know about the man she'd chosen to father her daughters? And as a single mother torn between fierce independence and abject dependence—on other women, alcohol, drugs, and the adrenaline of get-rich-quick schemes—what secrets of her own was she keeping?

It wasn't until Chrysta was a young adult that she discovered just how much her parents had hidden from their daughters—and each other— including a shocking revelation with far-reaching consequences, not only for Debra, Chrysta, and her sister, but for dozens and possibly hundreds of unsuspecting families across the country. After a lifetime of longing for a "normal family," can Chrysta turn to face the reality of her own, in all its complexity?

Bringing us into the fold of a deeply dysfunctional yet fiercely loving clan that is anything but "normal," this emotional roller-coaster of a memoir will make you cry, laugh, and rethink the meaning of family.

"A wholly absorbing page-turner that everyone will want to read. You should probably buy two." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Eloquently written and compulsively readable, Bilton's jaw-dropping coming-of-age memoir--and the love and survival found within its pages--is one readers won't soon forget." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Normal Family had me absolutely riveted from beginning to end. Chrysta Bilton has woven an impeccable narrative about the explosion of love, betrayal, and addiction—not to mention the menagerie of animals—that made up her madcap and calamitous childhood. The story is dominated by Bilton's hedonistic, cult-inclined, womanizing, unstable and uncanny lesbian single mother, who had to make it up as she went along, and is surely one of the most mesmerizing 'characters' in recent memoir. Normal Family narrowly escapes being a tragedy, redeemed by Bilton's compassionate storytelling and unwavering love for her untraditional family." - Stephanie Danler, bestselling author of Stray and Sweetbitter

"Chrysta Bilton's astonishing, wildly unpredictable memoir Normal Family starts out as rollicking and suspenseful and only ramps up from there, becoming by turns frightening, riotously funny, and finally quite moving." - Robert Kolker, New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road

Chrysta Bilton is an American writer who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. Normal Family is her first book.

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