Summary and book reviews of The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

A Novel

by Julietta Henderson

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson X
The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson
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    Apr 2021, 416 pages

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Book Summary

Julietta Henderson's delightfully charming, tender and uplifting debut takes us on a road trip with a mother and son who will live in the reader's heart for a long time to come, and teaches us that--no matter the odds--we must always reach for the stars.

Twelve-year-old Norman Foreman and his best friend, Jax, are a legendary comedic duo in waiting, with a plan to take their act all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe. But when Jax dies, Norman decides the only fitting tribute is to perform at the festival himself. The problem is, Norman's not the funny one. Jax was.

There's also another, far more colossal objective on Norman's new plan that his single mom, Sadie, wasn't ready for: he wants to find the father he's never known. Determined to put a smile back on her boy's face, Sadie resolves to face up to her own messy past, get Norman to the Fringe and help track down a man whose identity is a mystery, even to her.

Julietta Henderson's delightfully charming, tender and uplifting debut takes us on a road trip with a mother and son who will live in the reader's heart for a long time to come, and teaches us that—no matter the odds—we must always reach for the stars.

1
Sadie

WHEN I WAS BORN, my insides lay outside my body for twenty-one days. Which is unexpected, but not nearly as unusual as you might think. For every 3,999 other babies that come out with everything tucked in neatly and sealed away exactly where it should be, there's one like me. Nobody really knows why. Luck of the draw, my father used to say.

For those three weeks, while I lay spread-eagled in an incubator like a Nando's special, a crowd of doctors gathered every morning to discuss their cleverness and, as my organs shrank to their correct size, bit by bit they gently posted a little more of the me-parts that had made a break for it back inside.

Well, that's the way my mother told it anyway. The way my father told it, the doctors gathered around the incubator every morning to discuss whether they'd be having my large intestine or my liver for their lunch, and whether it'd be with chips or salad. And that right there might tell you almost everything you need to know about my parents.

...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The writer brings the reader along on Norman and his mother Sadie's journey—both of them are grappling with grief, Norman's from the present and Sadie's from the past. Over the course of the book, the two learn that grief need not define their lives; the message is that joy can always be found, even following the depths of sorrow (Hilary D). Although there is pathos and sadness surrounding the loss of Norman's best friend and comedy partner, Jax, there is love and growth and friendship and stamina and determination (Ginny H)...continued

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(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Media Reviews

BookPage
Reminiscent of the movie Little Miss Sunshine…Henderson’s cheekiness and humor shine as mother and son share their innermost fears and discuss how to carry on amid loss and grief. A lineup of great supporting characters keep things memorable and often laugh-out-loud funny. At its core, the novel is a celebration of friendships, new and old, that shape life in the best possible way. This is a happy tear-jerker for sure.

Booklist
Henderson’s debut novel charms…Humor, heart, and hopefulness make Norman Foreman a winner for fans of Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Be Frank with Me and R. J. Palacio’s Wonder.

Author Blurb Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This is How It Always Is
The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is funny. It is charming, warm, and uplifting as well. But Julietta Henderson's quirky, lovable characters also offer profound meditations on family, friendship, grief, disability, illness, and aging, all told with heart, humor, and wisdom. There is so much to love about this book.

Author Blurb Sarah Haywood, New York Times bestselling author of The Cactus
Norman Foreman will capture your heart, just as he does with everyone he meets on his quirky road-trip from heart-rending loss to comedy heaven. Norman's story had me in tears, both of laughter and sorrow, as he bravely battles against the odds to achieve his dream. His companions on his journey, and the wonderful characters he encounters along the way, have all suffered their own different losses, but, like Norman, have refused to let those challenges extinguish their optimism and love of life. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is a book full of hope, humour and kindness, with one of the most endearing central characters I've met in a long time. An utter delight!

Author Blurb Beth Morrey, bestselling author of The Love Story of Missy Carmichael
What a charming, funny and cheering read. There's such a lovely, buoyant innocence to Norman and his quest—a coming-of-age that tickles and moves in equal measure. The writing is sharp but tender and in the same way that Marcus in About a Boy strengthens his house of cards, Norman builds the eccentric, loving network he deserves.

Author Blurb Ruth Jones, bestselling author of Never Greener and co-creator of Gavin and Stacey
One of those gorgeous books that completely lifts your spirits and restores your faith in humanity. An utterly lovely tale.

Author Blurb Brianna Wolfson, author of That Summer in Maine
To read The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is to befriend three underdogs and join in on their zigging and zagging adventure. I wanted to get into the car with Norman, Sadie, and Leonard. This trio will melt your heart, lift your spirit, and make you want call your nearest and dearest to tell them how much you love them.

Reader Reviews

Pam Wooddell

The best preteen in the world
Norman handles his grief in such a sweet preteen way and loves his mother too! The author creates a boy like I wish I’d raised. The premise of the show is so far fetched that it was pure fun to fall in with it wholeheartedly.
Marcia H

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson
My sister, Miriam Boots, passed on the book , The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, to me and we both loved it! It starts slow, but the characters become so engaging leading up to a can’t put this book down ending. Wow. It truly is a “charming, warm,...   Read More
Julie B. (La Crescenta, CA)

One never knows
I knew. Somewhere on the very first page, that this was gonna be one of those books for me. I was not wrong! Oh, Normie! I love you and all of the wonderful characters radiating from these pages. And a genuinely painted mom, who loves her son. ...   Read More
Audrey M. (Overland Park, KS)

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
Just what I needed during covid. A book about off beat people having an off beat adventure that ends well. Loved all the characters. Would like to meet all of them. they were all pretty strong and caring about each other. In their own skewed way.

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Beyond the Book

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Street performer at Edinburgh Festival Fringe In Julietta Henderson's The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, the title character is a 12-year-old boy who wants to perform his stand-up comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Also known as "the Edinburgh Fringe" or simply "the Fringe," this event started out as an unofficial offshoot of the Edinburgh International Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. It soon became a festival in its own right and is now the largest arts festival in the world.

When the Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama began in 1947, it stirred up controversy due to its substantial spending on fine arts during a period of economic strife. Britain was still struggling after World War II, and many thought the festival was out of touch with the times. ...

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