Saturday, February 27, 2021


While being 11 is trying at times for everyone, Norman Foreman seems to have it harder than most.  Growing up in a single-parent household in the far southwest of England, he's never known his father.  A quiet and reserved boy, he also unfortunately suffers from a severe case of psoriasis which gets worse in times of stress (and also isn't helped by his love of cheesy toast).  The only bright spot in his life is his best friend Jax.  Jax is Norman's complete opposite:  loud, attention-seeking, and confident.  The two boys are united by their love of comedy and they make the perfect duo:  the natural clown and the straight man.   They set out a 5 year plan to perform a comedy routine at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by the time they are 15.  While they have yet to actually perform in front of an audience, they spend all their time writing jokes, studying famous comedians, and planning their future comedy careers.  This all comes to an abrupt and shocking end when Jax suddenly dies.  

Norman, naturally, is completely devastated by the death of his close and really only friend.  His mother, Sadie, is at a loss as to how to comfort him.  Sadie has been somewhat adrift in life since becoming an orphan at the age of 19.  With no family, she set out on a reckless and self-destructive path that led her to having a son (with no idea who his father could be), and also dropping out of college with no qualifications.  She's worked for the past 6 years at a car lot, taking calls and commiserating with her co-worker Leonard about their boorish boss, Dennis.  Leonard is over 80 and responds to Dennis's inappropriate and demeaning insults with quiet acts of rebellion that Sadie sees and appreciates.

With the death of his best friend, Norman's 5 Year Plan can no longer be completed.  Sadie notices that he has amended the poster in his bed with a new plan, which includes finding his father and performing as a solo act at the Fringe Festival.  Sadie, feeling helpless in the face of her son's grief, decides to do what she can to help him fulfil his new plan.  She even confides in octogenarian Leonard, and he enthusiastically decides to become her helper.  So the three set out on a road trip to find the four possible candidates for Norman's father while at the same time getting him some "open mike" experience on their way to Edinburgh.  Because by the time they get there word will have spread about Little Big Man (Norman's comedy persona) and it will be easy to get a slot to perform at the festival . . . won't it?

Norman is a very likeable and eager-to-please boy who is also sensitive to the feelings of others.  His mother, Sadie, is somewhat scattered and disorganized, so it's lucky that the elderly, but encouraging Leonard agrees to go along on the trip and arrange the details.  I enjoyed the story, but it seemed to lose steam somewhat about 2/3 of the way through when Norman unexpectedly embarks on a caper with a new character.  I thought that part of the story deviated from the previous action and dragged on a bit too long.  Still, it was nice to follow Norman's adventures and to see him overcome the loss of his friend and become a more confident individual.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman from NetGalley in exchange for this review


About Me

My photo
I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

I'm waiting! My library holds

Header by:


My LibraryThing Library

The Gherkin Scale

5gherkinsb Brilliant!

4gherkinsb Good, innit?

3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

0gherkins3Don't be givin' me evils!

Blog Archive

Popular Posts