Jonathan Mooney blends anecdote, expertise, and memoir to present a new mode of thinking about how we live and learn—individually, uniquely, and with advantages and upshots to every type of brain and body. As a neuro-diverse kid diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD who didn't learn to read until he was twelve, the realization that that he wasn’t the problem—the system and the concept of normal were—saved Mooney’s life and fundamentally changed his outlook. Here he explores the toll that being not normal takes on kids and adults when they’re trapped in environments that label them, shame them, and tell them, even in subtle ways, that they are the problem. But, he argues, if we can reorient the ways in which we think about diversity, abilities, and disabilities, we can start a revolution.
A highly sought after public speaker, Mooney has been inspiring audiences with his story and his message for nearly two decades. Now he’s ready to share what he’s learned from parents, educators, researchers, and kids in a book that is as much a survival guide as it is a call to action. Whip-smart, insightful, and utterly inspiring—and movingly framed as a letter to his own young sons, as they work to find their ways in the world—this book will upend what we call normal and empower us all.
"As an accessible primer on reassessing disability and mental health, it’s invaluable, and as an exploration of what it’s like to grow up feeling different, it’s incredibly cathartic."—Vanity Fair
“This book will make you think. Well researched and written in an accessible and engaging style, Mooney has provided his readers with an interesting and creative guide that will compel us to re-think the purpose of education and how we go approach it. The pressure kids experience to be normal and to experience what we conventionally regard as success, is taking a toll on children throughout the country. Mooney shows us that it need not be this way. For those who are ready to think outside the box, and who are ready to make the changes needed to create learning opportunities that make it possible for children to thrive, this book will be an invaluable resource and a breath of fresh air.”—Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D, Distinguished Professor of Education, Faculty Director, Center for the Transformation of Schools
"The attempt to make us conform to someone’s definition of ‘normal’ insults the exquisite mutability of the human race. In this candid, poignant, and insightful anthem to all of humanity, Mooney rejects the straitjacket of normalcy and demonstrates through the beautiful telling of his own struggle that humans thrive when we are accepted as we are."—Julie Lythcott-Haims, New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult
“Paradigm-shifting, highly enjoyable, and destined to become hugely influential, this book will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt different—and will open the minds of everyone who has not."—Rachel Simon, New York Times bestselling author of Riding The Bus With My Sister and The Story of Beautiful Girl
“Jonathan Mooney writes an irreverent, funny, and deeply moving . . . Addressing his own children, Mooney transforms complex ideas from the likes of Michel Foucault into understandable readable moments.”—Lennard Davis, author of Beginning with Disability
“If you’ve ever questioned who made the rules and why do we have to follow them, this book is for you. With wit, empathy, and defiance, Jonathan Mooney delivers a powerful message from the front lines of the inclusion revolution.”—Liz Benjamin, writer and producer whose credits include Man in the High Castle and Thirteen Reasons Why
“Jonathan Mooney has created a new genre here, where his unflinching recollections propel our collective humanity.”—Maryanne Wolf, Director, Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice, UCLA, and author of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World
“In this wonderfully wry, deeply personal, and insightful book, Jonathan Mooney exposes how the phantom called normal that has made so many of us so miserable comes for us and how we can and should resist. The underside of normal, Mooney reveals, is the shocking history of our American eugenics movement and how close we are right now to the same logic of ridding humanity of all of us who don’t fit into the ever tightening space of normal.”—Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Professor of English at Emory University
“Jonathan Mooney combines personal narrative, history, and critical theory to expose the tyranny of normalcy and its perverse impact on the lives of people with disabilities and other diverse identities. With seriousness and humor Mooney makes the case for confronting ableist assumptions, and creating a world in which the gifts of all people, particularly children are valued. This is a must read for educators, parents policy makers, and all those who seek to create a more just and equitable society. I loved this book!”—Thomas Hehir, author of Effective Inclusive Schools: Designing Successful Schoolwide Programs
“Jonathan's compelling book, Normal Sucks, takes readers on a journey that combines personal memoir, critical theory, and scientific history and exposes them to the fallacy of what constitutes normal. Using both warm humor and sharp social critique, Jonathan liberates the reader from the death grip of normalcy, that keeps people them from loving their uniqueness and embracing the diversity of others. This book is a refreshing reminder of the power of embracing our own authenticity and the need to enter into beloved community that celebrates the value and diversity of others. This book is destined to start a revolutions and is a must read for parents, educators, policy makers, and funders."—Roberto Rivera, Artist, Educator, Change Agent
"Thought-provoking . . . [Mooney] provides an extensive history of how the idea of normal evolved, giving readers an eye-opening look at the standards we are often forced to live with, whether we know it or not . . . A new, engaging, and informative perspective that redefines what 'normal' should really mean."—Kirkus Reviews
"Mooney expertly deconstructs normal in this intelligent examination that will shatter preconceived notions."—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
— I —
Normalcy was declared. (Normalcy was always a declaration.)
—Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Still, it would be progress if we could acknowledge that there really is...