Book Review – A Different Kind of Normal

A Different Kind of Normal
A Review by Catherine H. Armstrong

It’s finally here!  I feel like I’ve been waiting years, and it’s finally here!  Today marks the release of Cathy Lamb’s newest novel, A Different Kind of Normal.  And oh boy, are readers in for a treat!

Out of the kindness of her heart,  Ms. Lamb sent me an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this new release.  I say “out of the kindness of her heart,” but I’m sure there was no small amount of self-preservation involved.  After all, I’m sure it was just a bit disconcerting to receive contact from a reader who declares – in her best Kathy Bates stalker imitation –  “Ms. Lamb!  I’m your biggest fan!”  Scenes from Stephen King’s Misery likely flashed through her imagination, and she decided to take precautionary steps:  (1) Send Cathie Armstrong a copy of the newest book to keep her happy, and (2) Add Cathie Armstrong to the list of potential stalkers…just in case.

Okay, in all seriousness, I wasn’t that bad.  I hope.  I’ll let you know if the cops bang down my door at three in the morning and abscond with my laptop and the 15 rolls of duct tape (in designer colors) that my daughter has on hand for “emergencies.”

But back to A Different Kind of Normal.  I can sum this book up in one word:  Beautiful!  In true Cathy Lamb fashion, readers are brought a story that will make you laugh out loud, and is absolutely certain to bring forth tears of empathy and grief.  It’s what Cathy Lamb does best, and it’s probably why she truly is my favorite author.

Lamb’s newest novel tells the story of 17-year old Tate.  Born to a strung-out and drug-addicted  mother (Brooke), and adopted at birth by his 19-year old aunt (Jaden), Tate’s life will be anything but easy.  Likely due to his biological mother’s drug abuse and lack of any prenatal attention, Tate is born with a very enlarged head and lopsided eyes which make him appear freakish to strangers.  To his family – his Boss Mom (adopted mom, Jaden), his Nana Bird (grandmother), and his uncle and cousins – Tate is beautiful.  He’s brilliant and funny, and he teaches his family that love and laughter heal tears.

When Tate begs to go out for the basketball team, Jaden’s overprotective and hovering tendencies begin to smother her enthusiastic son.  Can Jaden put aside her fears and allow Tate to behave like a normal kid?  Can she step back and allow him to handle, in his own way, the teasing of strangers without pounding them to a pulp with her bare hands?

A Different Kind of Normal is what fans of Lamb have come to expect:  a story of love and family, beautifully written with strong characters, some sadness, and a whole lot of humor.  She simply never let’s us down!

Finally getting to read a new Cathy Lamb book is like being on a diet for a whole year; eating only fresh fruits and vegetables, but yearning for that warm chocolate lava dessert at your favorite restaurant.  You finally decide to treat yourself, so you feel the need to eat it slowly and savor every single bite because you know – when you’re done – you’ll have to go right back to those ho-hum fruits and veggies you’ve been existing on for the last year.

I’ve finished my “dessert.”  I wish I could say I ate it slowly and savored every single bite, but the truth is that I shoveled it in with a serving spoon in each hand.  It’s going to be a long year while I wait to see what Cathy Lamb has in store for us next.

This book is not yet available at the Rochester Public Library, but is available through inter-library loan. Check with the Reserves Desk to request a copy!
For more information about Cathy Lamb and her books, visit the author’s website at

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