Book Review: Normal by Janet Bettag

by Janet Bettag
Published August 30, 2012
Available for Kindle and Nook
My rating 5 out of 5 stars

“In that nanosecond of enlightenment I knew that the human spirit survives the death of the physical body and I understood that my wandering soul needed to get back into its earthly habitat.” - Janet Bettag, Normal

Normal is the true story of the author’s survival and recovery from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. It poignantly and humorously addresses dealing with altered self-image, finding ways around barriers, and appreciating the play of serendipity and synchronicity in our lives. The book is a moving and sometimes hilarious account of her determination to reconnect with reality and construct an active, rewarding life in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Sharing skirmishes and victories, Janet Bettag conveys a message of hope, inspriation, and support to her readers. In doing so, she reminds each of us that we have a choice to make when faced with adversity - remain a victim or become a warrior.

Note: The author gave me a copy of the manuscript, not to review, but to read in preparation for an interview. I've had the pleasure of meeting personally with Janet. When she told me her reasons for writing this book, I knew I had to read it. After reading it, I had to review it right away because I want to do anything I can to get the word out. This is my first time reviewing a memoir on this blog or anywhere else. It's hard to rate or review someone's personal experience. I had the same problem when discussing Eat Pray Love and other memoirs we've read for Book Club. And, Normal isn't an ordinary memoir. It's so much more.

My Review: Normal details the author's personal experiences as a brain aneurysm survivor. It's a memoir, but so much more. Janet Bettag offers information, advice, and hope. As she honestly and bravely describes her own challenges and heartaches following her brain attack, she speaks directly to others who have experienced brain trauma as well as to those who are caregivers. She acknowledges the pain and stress experienced by those who are struggling to care for a brain aneurysm survivor. 

For survivors, she offers practical advice and hope. By no means does the author offer medical advice. This book is not intended to serve as a medical journal. She describes many of her own experiences, but explains that others might often have entirely different experiences. The author clearly instructs survivors to speak to their caregivers and doctors openly. She encourages survivors to seek out support groups and most importantly, to accept a new 'normal.'

This book is so well written, it's a very quick read and hard to put down. You don't have to have a loved one with a ruptured brain aneurysm to enjoy this book, though I would recommend it for anyone who is a caregiver, friend, family member, or survivor. There's a clear message of hope that will appeal to any reader. The author's story is remarkable and her persistence and optimism is an inspiration. Consider this: post aneurysm, she couldn't string together a coherent sentence, and now she's written a book. While some would have given up, the author fought. She isn't a victim. She isn't just a survivor, either. She is an author of a really, really amazing book that I would strongly recommend.

Normal is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It can also be found on Goodreads.