North Of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Counterculture Family, and How I Survived Both

Harper Collins
37

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 northern Alberta. 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 in a canvas Teepee, grew pot, and hunted and gathered to survive.

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 was a happy existence. For Michelle, however, 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 made in order to get the life she craved.

From nature child to international model by the age of thirteen, Cea’s astonishing saga is one of long-held family secrets and extreme family dysfunction, all in an incredibly unusual setting. It is also the story of one girl’s deep-seated desire for normality—a desire that enabled her to risk everything, overcome adversity and achieve her dreams.

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About the author

CEA SUNRISE PERSON is the author of the bestselling book North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Counterculture Family, and How I Survived Both. She has spoken publicly about her unusual life at numerous events, including TEDx, and also teaches memoir writing. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and three children.

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4.5
37 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Apr 29, 2014
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9781443424400
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

 From the author of the bestselling memoir North of Normal comes the harrowing story of a past that won’t let go, and one woman’s attempt to put her life back together after everything falls apart

In her bestselling memoir North of Normal, Cea wrote with grace about her unconventional childhood—her early years living in a tipi in Alberta with her pot-smoking, free-loving counterculture family. But her struggles do not end when she leaves her family at the age of thirteen to become a model. Honest and daring, Nearly Normal reveals the many ways that Cea’s unconventional childhood continues to reverberate through the years.

At the age of thirty-seven, Cea has built a life that looks like the normal one she craved as a child—husband, young son, beautiful house, enviable career. But her carefully art-directed world is about to crumble around her. As she confronts the death of her still-young mother, the disintegration of her second marriage and the demise of her business, all within a few months, she finally faces the need to look at her past to make sense of her present.

The Globe and Mail says “Person’s best gifts as a writer are her memory, her knack for knowing when to dig down into the finer details of a scene, and when to pull back.” Nearly Normal chronicles the many stories Cea left untold but that needed telling. Settled into a new and much happier life after the release of her first book, she is nonetheless compelled to continue searching for answers about her enigmatic family. She discovers the value in the lessons they taught her, and the power of taking responsibility for her own choices.

 

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 counter-culture 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 twenty-four 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 reader unmoved.

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