Sara and the Search for Normal

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Product Details

$17.99  $16.73
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publish Date
5.8 X 8.3 X 1.1 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Wesley King is the author of over a dozen novels for young readers. His debut, OCDaniel, is an Edgar Award winner, a Canada Silver Birch Award winner, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and received a starred review from Booklist. The companion novel, Sara and the Search for Normal, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was the recipient of the Violet Downey Book Award and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award. King has also written The Incredible Space Raiders from Space!, A World Below, Butt Sandwich & Tree, and Kobe Bryant's New York Times bestselling Wizenard series. He lives in Newfoundland.


Diagnosed at age six with bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder, mild schizophrenia, and depression, Sara attends public school and does well academically. Now in seventh grade, unable to attend regular classes because of frequent, disruptive panic attacks, she's known to other students as Psycho Sara, and she yearns to be "normal." At group sessions led by her psychiatrist, she meets outgoing Erin, who befriends her and urges her to adopt a more positive outlook, to see herself as a "Star Child," and to celebrate the differences that make her special. Becoming an agent of positive change for others, Sara faces painful losses, but she makes impressive gains as well. In this prequel to King's OCDaniel (2016), readers will meet Sara in the period before her story intertwines with Daniel's. The first-person narrative reveals her concerns and shifts in confidence as this vulnerable, truthful character meets challenges and becomes increasingly determined and brave. Adults and young people alike are portrayed as flawed here, but it's the vivid, insightful depiction of Sara's internal struggles that readers will remember.--Booklist "February 15, 2020"
How can Sara even try to make friends when she knows in her heart that she's really what her jeering classmates call her? Sara, who was diagnosed at 6 with bipolar and anxiety disorders, mild schizophrenia, and depression, lives a mostly solitary life. Though she attends a public school, she's not mainstreamed. The school believes Sara's too intellectually gifted to be in a regular special education classroom, so she's been learning solo. Wracked with self-loathing, she's obsessed with being "normal." When her therapist (also her psychiatrist) encourages Sara to join a therapy group for teens with mental illness, Sara makes her first friend ever. Erin has trichotillomania, an anxiety disorder in which she pulls out her own eyebrows and eyelashes, and (unlike nearly silent Sara) she's gregarious and affectionate. Though Erin and Sara adore one another, they could hardly be more different. Sara is desperate for a cure while Erin insists she has no desire for normalcy. Sara constantly uses slurs to describe herself while Erin's convinced that they're special kids: Star Children. Nearly all the characters are white except for one other kid in the group. With multiple encouraging adult mentors who say mostly excellent things about mental health, the educational message is unsubtle, but it's delivered in a thoroughly compelling vehicle with a tidy but gripping subplot. This prequel to OCDaniel (2016) works just as well as a stand-alone. Readers will take heart to see this well-realized character learning self-esteem and life skills. (Fiction. 10-13)--Kirkus Reviews "March 15, 2020"