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Oddly normal

Sharing his family's own struggles within a culture that is quickly changing, a national correspondent for "The New York Times" and father of a gay teen offers crucial lessons about helping gay kids and how to cope in a potentially hostile world. Full description

Main Author:
Other Authors: Schwartz, Joseph,
Format: CD
Language: English
Published: Brilliance Audio, 2012
Edition: Unabridged.
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Three years ago, John Schwartz, a national correspondent for The New York Times , got the call that every parent hopes never to receive: His thirteen-year-old son, Joe, was in the hospital following a suicide attempt. Mustering the courage to come out to his classmates, Joe had delivered a tirade about homophobic and sexist attitudes that was greeted with unease and confusion by his fellow students. Hours later, he took an overdose of pills.

After a couple of weeks in the hospital and in the locked ward of a psychiatric treatment center, Joe returned to his family. As he recovered, his parents were dismayed by his school's inability to address--or reluctance to deal with--Joe's needs. Determined to help their son feel more comfortable in his own skin, Schwartz and his wife, Jeanne, launched their own search for services and groups that could help Joe know he wasn't alone.

In Oddly Normal , Schwartz writes of his family's struggles within a culture that is changing fast--but not fast enough. Interweaving his narrative with contextual chapters on psychology, law, and common questions, Schwartz shares crucial lessons about helping gay kids learn how to cope in a potentially hostile world. From buying rhinestone-studded toddler shoes to creating a "Joseph manual" for Joe's teachers; from finding a hairdresser who stocks purple dye to fighting erroneous personality disorder diagnoses, Oddly Normal offers a deeply personal look into one boy's growing up.

Joe, far happier today than he was three years ago, collaborated on this work.

Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this moving account of a family's journey to raise and protect their gay son, New York Times correspondent Schwartz begins with his son Joe's suicide attempt, discovering afterwards that his son had come out to his classmates that afternoon. Joe's parents had always suspected the youngest of their three children might be gay, playing with dolls and wearing pink lightup shoes, but he had only coyly revealed his sexuality to his parents a week before his suicide attempt. With an unusual condition therapists variously diagnosed over the years as Asperger's, bi-polar, ADHD, among others, school was always a challenge for Joe. With the growing awareness of his sexuality, however, came increasing sensitivity to fellow students' homophobic slurs and taunts, as well as a growing realization that he was "different" and even that there was something possibly wrong with him. Schwartz recounts in sometimes painful detail his and his wife's difficulties in getting Joe the help he so desperately needed, from working with school officials on appropriate ways of dealing with Joe when his condition overwhelmed him, to joining the Youth Enrichment Services at the Gay Center. With the new support, Joe thrived. Equally humorous and heartrending, this memoir reveals just what it takes to raise children who are different in a world still resistant. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

John Schwartz is a science reporter for "The Washington Post."

(Bowker Author Biography) John Schwartz is a reporter at "The New York Times", covering science, technology, and business.

(Bowker Author Biography)