Sometimes you read the synopsis of a novel and you think to yourself: ‘This will never work.’ Then you start to turn the pages and realise just how wrong you are and how right is the writer.
The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman grabs you by the arm from page on and refuses to let go. It’s a beautifully written, warm-hearted, tragi-comic story about love. The love of a single, undeniably feckless mother for her 12-year-old fatherless son. His love for her, for jokes, and for his friend and putative comedy partner Jax, who quietly dies in the very first chapter.
That’s the thing about this book. One moment it makes you laugh out loud; turn the page and you’re dashing away a tear. Quite an achievement for a debut novelist.
As a mother of three boys I totally identified with Sadie’s fierce, unconditional love for Norman. Like her, my heart broke when she discovers a ‘life list’ he has pinned to his bedroom door. Before Jax’s death, the pair of them were determined to become teen stars of the Edinburgh comedy festival. Their wish-list read:
- Get to the Edinburgh Fringe, baby!
- Get famous
- Get rich
Norman has crossed all that out. Now the list reads:
- Look after mum
- Find dad
- Get to the Edinburgh Fringe
And Sadie decides to do just that – somehow find Norman’s father, and somehow get her boy on stage with a microphone at one of the most prestigious comedy festivals in the world. Their journey there together will warm – and break – your heart.