North of Normal

North of Normal

A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Counterculture Family and How I Survived Both

Book - 2014
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Sex, drugs and . . . bug stew? An utterly compelling tale of survival--of nature, family and genetics

In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea's family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in northern Alberta. But unlike most commune dwellers of the time, the Persons weren't trying to build a new society--they wanted to escape civilization altogether. Led by Cea's grandfather Dick, they lived in a canvas Teepee, grew pot, and hunted and gathered to survive.

Living out her grandparents' dream with her teenage mother, Michelle, young Cea knew little of the world beyond her forest. She spent her summers playing nude in the meadow and her winters snowshoeing behind the grandfather she idolized. Despite fierce storms, food shortages and the occasional drug-and-sex-infused party for visitors, it was a happy existence. For Michelle, however, there was one crucial element missing: a man. When Cea was five, Michelle took her on the road with a new boyfriend. As the trio set upon a series of ill-fated adventures, Cea began to question both her highly unusual world and the hedonistic woman at the centre of it--questions that eventually evolved into an all-consuming search for a more normal life. Finally, in her early teens, Cea realized she would have to make a choice as drastic as the one her grandparents once had made in order to get the life she craved.

From nature child to international model by the age of thirteen, Cea's astonishing saga is one of long-held family secrets and extreme family dysfunction, all in an incredibly unusual setting. It is also the story of one girl's deep-seated desire for normality--a desire that enabled her to risk everything, overcome adversity and achieve her dreams.

Publisher: Toronto :, HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2014]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781443424387
Branch Call Number: ANF 746.92092 PER
ANF 746.92092 PER
Characteristics: 301 pages : illustrations (chiefly colour) ; 24 cm


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Sep 25, 2017

Our Art Lovers Book Club ended up giving this a 5 out of 10. It seems to be a book you either love or hate, with some rating the book as high as an 8 and some giving it just a 1 or a 2. Of course, books that have such diverse opinions are sometimes the best to discuss, which was definitely the case with this title.

May 16, 2017

Wow, what a story and I am so surprised that she survived such a childhood. A very good read. From such a humble upbringing she sure had an adventurous life. I am glad that her life took such a turn, modelling in Europe and now she is married to a wonderful man with a family of her own. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a different good book to read.

Feb 14, 2017

They lived a real hippie life in the bush in Alberta and BC, many places I recognized which made it interesting.
Cea did a good job describing her dysfunctional family and wild wilderness childhood.
Book made me smile at times.
A good read.

Feb 12, 2017

A very interesting read. Amazing, unbelievable stories. Even after reading the book, I still have no idea how anyone could have survived. Hard to believe she has even more to tell in her follow up book. Looking forward to checking it out as well.

AL_LINDA Aug 29, 2016

What a childhood Cea endured! How did she overcome the obstacles?? I'm in awe of her ability to understand and seek a different life. Great book, couldn't put it down.

May 08, 2016

I read this book awhile ago and still revisit it from time to time. It's a crazy, good story and I finished it in one night. This is a story that is worth reading and it will really put perspective on your own life.

Mar 04, 2016

This was quite an eye-opener! I lived such an idyllic childhood, that it is almost impossible to realize that there are people who grew up so differently. Cea was an amazing child, to have been aware at a young age, that she was in a situation that she knew was not "normal". Then it was quite amazing that she actually had the "gumption" to get herself away from that lifestyle!

Jan 04, 2016

A very interesting read. Amazing story. I really felt for the author - what a life!

gsplmarley Jul 09, 2015

A great read for anyone who enjoyed The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

LibraryKat_1 May 20, 2015

This book is worth the read. I couldn't put this book down and finished it in one night. It is such an interesting read to learn how Cea and her family lived for some many years.

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Feb 14, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Nov 02, 2014

natalieruhl thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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