Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

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Memoirs of childhood are as common as peanuts, but this one fulfills a greater purpose than most confessionals. It sees a celebrated author pulling back the curtain of her polished creative products and letting us see their gritty, ugly raw material.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

Jeanette Winterson’s novels have establishing her as a major figure in world literature. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally bestselling first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life’s work to find happiness. It's a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the Universe as Cosmic Dustbin.

It is the story of how a painful past that Jeanette thought she'd written over and repainted rose to haunt her, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother.

Witty, acute, fierce, and celebratory, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a tough-minded search for belonging—for love, identity, home, and a mother.
 

About Jeanette Winterson

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Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959 and graduated from St. Catherine's College, Oxford. Her book, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, is a semi-autobiographical account of her life as a child preacher (she wrote and gave sermons by the time she was eight years old). The book was the winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction and was made into an award-winning TV movie. The Passion won the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize for best writer under thirty-five, and Sexing the Cherry won the American Academy of Arts and Letters' E. M. Forster Award.
 
Published March 6, 2012 by Grove Press. 242 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Apr 15 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison on Mar 22 2012

It’s a testament to Winterson’s innate generosity, as well as her talent, that she can showcase the outsize humor her mother’s equally capacious craziness provides...

Read Full Review of Why Be Happy When You Could B... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Mar 08 2012

The device of the trapped young person saved by books is a hoary one, but Ms. Winterson makes it seem new, and sulfurous.

Read Full Review of Why Be Happy When You Could B... | See more reviews from NY Times

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Barmak on Jan 29 2012

Memoirs of childhood are as common as peanuts, but this one fulfills a greater purpose than most confessionals. It sees a celebrated author pulling back the curtain of her polished creative products and letting us see their gritty, ugly raw material.

Read Full Review of Why Be Happy When You Could B... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

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