cover image Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines

Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines

Jonathan Mooney. Holt, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-19016-1

Mooney (The Short Bus), a speaker on neurological diversity who was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia at age 10, aims to eradicate the word normal from readers’ vocabularies with this persuasive analysis. To understand how the concept of normal became a social phenomenon, Mooney traces the word back to its roots as a mathematical term in the 1840s, which referred to the common bell curve. As Mooney tracks the word through the decades (including its usage in eugenics, anatomy, and physiology), it becomes clear that the term creates problems when referring to human behavior and physiology because, in Mooney’s words, “normal was created, not discovered, by flawed, eccentric, self-interested, racist, ableist, homophobic, sexist humans. Normal is a statistical fiction.” In particular, he rails against the history of vague, flawed standards for measuring and labeling human behavior, particularly when designing treatments that supposedly aim for “patients” to become “normal”—as in Mooney’s own case. He also argues that grouping some people as “normal” has led to the dehumanization of people who are differently abled or neurodiverse, and believes that each person should be considered in their own right, not compared to a normative standard. Mooney expertly deconstructs normal in this intelligent examination that will shatter preconceived notions. [em](Aug.) [/em]