• North of Normal

  • A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both
  • By: Cea Sunrise Person
  • Narrated by: Cea Sunrise Person
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (842 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Sex, drugs, and...bug stew? In the vein of The Glass Castle and Wild, Cea Sunrise Person's compelling memoir of a childhood spent with her dysfunctional counterculture family in the Canadian wilderness - a searing story of physical, emotional, and psychological survival.

In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea's family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in the Canadian wilderness. But unlike most commune dwellers of the time, the Persons weren't trying to build a new society - they wanted to escape civilization altogether. Led by Cea's grandfather Dick, they lived a pot-smoking, free-loving, clothing-optional life under a canvas tipi without running water, electricity, or heat for the bitter winters.

Living out her grandparents' dream with her teenage mother, Michelle, young Cea knew little of the world beyond her forest. She spent her summers playing nude in the meadow and her winters snowshoeing behind the grandfather she idolized. Despite fierce storms, food shortages, and the occasional drug-and-sex-infused party for visitors, it seemed to be a mostly happy existence. For Michelle, however, now long separated from Cea's father, there was one crucial element missing: a man. When Cea was five, Michelle took her on the road with a new boyfriend. As the trio set upon a series of ill-fated adventures, Cea began to question both her highly unusual world and the hedonistic woman at the centre of it - questions that eventually evolved into an all-consuming search for a more normal life. Finally, in her early teens, Cea realized she would have to make a choice as drastic as the one her grandparents once had in order to save herself.

While a successful international modeling career offered her a way out of the wilderness, Cea discovered that this new world was in its own way daunting and full of challenges. Containing 24 intimate black-and-white family photos, North of Normal is Cea's funny, shocking, heartbreaking, and triumphant tale of self-discovery and acceptance, adversity, and strength that will leave no listener unmoved.

©2014 Cea Sunrise Person (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about North of Normal

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Entertaining but Frustrating

Spoilers ahead. Cea's life made me angry, sad, and frustrated, right until the end of the book, even with a seemingly happy ending. The narration is great, particularly during the parts where she is a young child, which is most of the book. Her tone is that of wonder, disappointment, and confusion rather than bitterness or resentment towards her family, even while being subjected to covert and overt sexual abuse and a mother whose fleeting tender moments do NOT make up for the fact that she literally barely does enough to keep her child and herself alive because she refuses to work so that she can party and have sex as much as possible, often in front of her child! What frustrated me is towards the end when the author says her mother "did the best she could" and that she "never abandoned" Cea. She absolutely did not do the best she could. She couldn't even get the kid underwear until she was six or seven! They were homeless and on the brink of starvation when they had other alternatives. She continually put men before her child even when she knew Cea was being abused. There was A LOT she could have done better as a mother and being sexually abused herself as a child is not an excuse. She also abandoned the child over and over. Every time she chose sex and parties over Cea, she abandoned her. She even left for an entire year at one point, leaving Cea once again in the forest to be homeless with her weird naked grandparents. It's great that she has this forgiveness in her heart, but I hated hearing her make excuses for the people in her life who should have protected her.

12 people found this helpful

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Terrible book

The description is not at all accurate. 9 hours of mindless sex and drugs. Very little about wilderness living.

10 people found this helpful

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An amazing story

Unbelievable, couldn't put it aside
Story being told very well by the author herself, makes you think about your life and how you bring up your kids

8 people found this helpful

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what a life

what happens if you are born in a family run by ultra orthodox hippie paranoia ridden grandparents. it changes your prospect of your own life. nicely read.

7 people found this helpful

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Compelling look at a wild life

Car lived a live so different from my own, it was fascinating to listen to. I love a good memoir.

7 people found this helpful

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Not to be forgotten.

I loved every minute of this book. Sea Sunrise Parsons took an unusual, inappropriate, abusive and wildly dysfunctional childhood and somehow carved herself a happy and functional adult life out of it.

I cried tears of joy for her at the end of the book because I grew so attached to her story and wanted good things to happen to her. Her story was inspirational and I will not soon forget it.

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing 😉

This is well written, kept you listening and we couldn’t wait to get back in the car to here more. Cea her words are heartfelt, moving and so amazing. Thank you for writing your story and sharing with us. Truly amazing you are! Thanks

3 people found this helpful

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my favorite book!

This is such a wonderful memoir to listen to, it breaks your heart, inspires and comforts.

Hearing the story from the author adds more to an already wonderful story. Thank you Cea for sharing your story ❤️

3 people found this helpful

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I loved this book!! Cea is an incredible writer!

Her life story and experiences are amazing!
I couldn’t stop listening! The fact that she narrated it also makes it so personal and real!!
I was so anticipating the next book!! I am so proud of her and glad that Cea became the amazing woman that she is now!!


I

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amazing story

this is an amazing story that made me feel the entire range of emotions, ending in me fighting back tears for the final hour. it makes me think how lucky I am to have the family I have and how my life and the authors have had many similarities.

5 people found this helpful