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Reading Group Gold
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Like Any Normal Day



Awards: PEN Literary Award - Winner

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About The Author

Mark Kram Jr.Mark Kram Jr.

MARK KRAM, JR. writes for The Philadelphia Daily News. His feature articles have won the Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists, been awarded top honors by the Associated Press for three consecutive years, and been published six times in The Best... More

photo: Sarah J. Glover

Awards

PEN Literary Award - Winner

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Reading Group Gold

Like Any Normal Day is a nonfiction account of the life and death of Buddy Miley, a promising young athlete who became quadriplegic after an injury in a high school football game. The story follows Buddy’s trajectory from optimism to searches for miracle cures, to descent into intense pain and depression that led him to seek an assisted suicide from Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Buddy is only part of the
picture, however. Through interviews with those who loved Buddy, Mark Kram Jr. creates a narrative history of how this catastrophic injury affected Buddy’s family and friends, most particularly Buddy’s brother Jim (who helped him make the trip to Kevorkian), Buddy’s tireless mother, Rosemarie, and Buddy’s mercurial girlfriend, Karen. Readers will be challenged by several enduring questions: What
would I do for a loved one in pain? What rights do I have to decide how and when to end my life? Where do I draw the line in a challenging love affair? What are my personal responsibilities for my safety and health, and who can I trust to enact my wishes?

This book tells a tragic story, but it is uplifting nevertheless. The story hinges less on Buddy and more on Jim, who, through his decision to help his brother, becomes empowered to take control of his own life and to feel that he had fulfilled a moral responsibility to his loved one.

1. In Like Any Normal Day, the author presents a relationship between two brothers, Buddy and Jimmy.
• How did Buddy’s injury affect the course of Jimmy’s teenage and young adult years?
• If you could have given advice to Jimmy during this time, what would you have
told him to do?

2. “Window on Acorn Drive” traces Buddy’s descent from optimism to despair.
• How did Buddy fight his despair?
• Why did Buddy’s efforts to battle depression finally fail him?

3. Beginning on page 146, the author briefly joins the story when he goes tointerview Buddy.
• What does Mark Kram Jr. accomplish by comparing his own life to Buddy’s?
• Why do you think Mark Kram Jr. decided to write about Buddy? What was the author’s purpose?

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