Monday, December 2, 2013

EXCERPT: Searching For Normal by Alison Neuman

by Alison Neuman

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. 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.

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EXCERPT: But when I got back home, my internet search of dementia quickly reduced me to tears. Each prognosis had the sufferer's identity slowly stripped away, until their spirit, their essence completely disappeared. There was no cure; there was no way to stop it. For the first time in my life, I truly felt alone.Medications helped Mom in her rehabilitation from the strokes, and we began to be able to reopen the lines of communication as her vocabulary returned. But I had resigned myself to the fact that things would by and large get worse, and not better. And I'd also resigned myself to the fact that as her condition progressed, and she ultimately passed away, much of my life would come to an end. There was no way that I could manage in this big scary world without her. She made the world feel safe. She made life livable when my disease stole everything else from me.I gladly became her caregiver, helping her with all the daily tasks of living as she had done for me for so many years. I took over her dressing, bathing, and cooking as much as I could. And as the disease progressed, I became adept at playing the sort of charades necessary to interpret the meaning of the words that were lost to her as they traveled through the neurons of her brain. It seemed particularly cruel to me, in my endeavor to become a writer, that language was letting her down.

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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