author photo by Suzanne Reiss
Praise for On the Outskirts of Normal
The Year’s Best Reading in 2010: A Top Ten List Selection. Barnes and Noble.
Best Southern Books of 2010. Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
2010 Best Books. San Antonio Express-News.
REQUIRED READING: In a setting where working mothers are rare, novelist and single mom Debra Monroe’s adoption of a black baby puts her On the Outskirts of Normal…
PICKS: Should a middle-aged white woman with a history of failed relationships try to raise a black baby in small-town Texas? Author Monroe proves she’s got the right stuff, even if she can’t handle her adopted daughter’s Afro (“If you’re white, black hair care is a secret”). Candid about men, mothering, racism, and her own flaws, she shows that it’s possible to create something beautiful out of a tattered past.
OUR PICKS: On the Outskirts of Normal. Debra Monroe writes about the complications, and gifts, of transracial adoption.
RECOMMENDED READING: This unsentimental memoir about a white woman who adopts a black baby in small town Texas.
—O: the Oprah Magazine, The Reading Room.
If On the Outskirts of Normal were a country song, Lucinda Williams would sing it. In this graceful, disquieting and intensely felt acccount, Monroe offers the story of how she became the mother she needed to be—not to Marie, who in Monroe always had a fine mother, but for herself, so she could finally have and keep what she deserved.
Monroe doesn’t waste time justifying her family to others—her care and clear-eyed focus on her daughter make their own argument. It’s absolutely clear this is the life she chose. “The sprawling mess of life is why we need stories,” she writes, “a fleeting sense of order so we return to life with the unproven but irresistible conviction our mistakes and emergencies matter.”
—Amy Benfer, Barnes & Noble Review
Debra Monroe is the author of four books of fiction, and one memoir. Her first book, The Source of Trouble, published in 1990, won the prestigious Flannery O'Connor Award for Fiction, and was acclaimed as a "fierce debut" that presents "ever-hopeful lost souls with engaging humor and sympathy" (Kirkus Reviews). Her second book of stories, A Wild, Cold State, published in 1995, was described by The Boston Globe as "fine and funky, marbled with warmth and romantic confusion, but not a hint of sentimentality." When her first novel, Newfangled, was published in 1998, the Washington Post called it "rangy, thoughtful, ambitious, and widely, wildly knowledgeable, teasing out the tension between pop culture and private life." Her second novel, Shambles, published in 2004, was praised by the Texas Observer for "the depth as well as the heartbreaking particularity of the hellholes—real and imagined—that make Shambles a novel of graceful ease and substance." On the Outskirts of Normal: Forging a Family Against the Grain, was originally published by SMU Press in June 2010, to national acclaim.
Learn more about Debra at her author site, debramonroe.net.