North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Counterculture Family, and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person



This is a memoir written by a woman who grew up in the wilderness in the 1960’s, her family left California to live off the land. There was a lot going on for Cea growing up – she had a teenage mother, food shortages, and she was exposed to a lot of drugs and sex from a very young age. She then goes on to tell us about living with her mom moving from boyfriend to boyfriend in very unstable environments. As she grew older she sought, money, independence and above all else normalcy. She became an international model by the age of 13 and continued from there to distance herself from her family the best she could.

I gave this book four stars. It was well written and I found that it moved quickly; which I appreciate. She was blunt and honest about the whole ordeal. When I first started this book I couldn’t understand some of the reviews I had read, they sounded almost tragic. All I was seeing was some hippies that took their cause to the next level (definitely went to far), and who am I to tell people how to live. As I read further into to book I realized how much she had been exposed to at such a young age, and how inappropriate and traumatizing the entire situation must have been for her. As the story moved along and it seemed to focus primarily on her relationship with her mother, as they were separated from the extended family; you begin to see how Cea had to grow up a lot faster than she should have. Having a teenage mom isn’t typically the ideal scenario and it was no different for Cea.

As I read this book I ended up greatly disliking her family – the hippy attitude they had I just could not agree with. I understand the idea behind it all, fighting back from a society that was stifling for them. But to me they pretty much went off  the deep end, to the point that it clearly was not even close to a healthy way to raise a child of any age. I found myself feeling so bad for this little girl being forced to live this way and angry at the adults for putting her through this. This book was very thought provoking for me, a lot was dealt with in this book: sex, drugs, raising children, lifestyle choices. For me it was a really good book but some of the themes it touched on can be a very hard read at the same time. In the end I would recommend this book, anyone who like memoirs especially but with a warning that it is not an easy subject matter.

Let me know what you think.


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