Oddly Normal by John Schwartz
One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality

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...Mr. Schwartz knows no father can guarantee his child will always be happy. But in sharing his family’s story, he may free up other kids like Joseph to be something greater: themselves.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A heartfelt memoir by the father of a gay teen, and an eye-opening story for families who hope to bring up well-adjusted gay adults.

Three years ago, John Schwartz, a national correspondent at The New York Times, got the call that every parent hopes never to receive: his thirteen-year-old son, Joe, was in the hospital following a failed suicide attempt. After mustering the courage to come out to his classmates, Joe’s disclosure — delivered in a tirade about homophobic attitudes—was greeted with dismay and confusion by his fellow students. Hours later, he took an overdose of pills.
 
Additionally, John and his wife, Jeanne, found that their son’s school was unable to address Joe’s special needs. Angry and frustrated, they initiated their own search for services and groups that could help Joe understand that he wasn’t alone. Oddly Normal is Schwartz’s very personal attempt to address his family’s own struggles within a culture that is changing fast, but not fast enough to help gay kids like Joe.

Schwartz follows Joseph through childhood to the present day, interweaving his narrative with common questions, including: Are effeminate boys and tomboy girls necessarily gay? Is there a relationship between being gay and suicide or mental illness? Should a child be pushed into coming out? Parents, teachers, and counselors alike will welcome Oddly Normal and its crucial lessons about helping gay kids –and any kid who is different -- learn how to cope in a potentially hostile world.

 

 

About John Schwartz

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JOHN SCHWARTZ is the author of Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall At All and a national correspondent with The New York Times, where he covers law, science, technology, business, and a broad range of other topics. His writing has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, GQ, Texas Monthly, and other publications. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Joe, two children, and two difficult cats.
 
Published November 8, 2012 by Avery. 305 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Oddly Normal
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Stephen Karam on Dec 12 2012

...Mr. Schwartz knows no father can guarantee his child will always be happy. But in sharing his family’s story, he may free up other kids like Joseph to be something greater: themselves.

Read Full Review of Oddly Normal: One Family's St... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by David Sheff on Nov 09 2012

Of course the levity that permeates the book is possible because Joe’s parents were lucky — their son’s suicide attempt failed — unlike many others, including the parents of Tyler Clementi.

Read Full Review of Oddly Normal: One Family's St... | See more reviews from NY Times

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