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(Review) All But Normal: Life on Victory Road by Shawn Thornton with Joel Kilpatrick

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Tyndale
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Pages: 320
Source: Free paperback copy from Tyndale in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

Link for the book @ Tyndale: All But Normal. Excerpt is available @ the link.

Website for All But Normal. A free preview is available @ this link.

Website of Shawn's: Pastor Shawn. 


All But Normal is the story of Shawn Thornton's family; principally his mother's mood swings, and it's results on the family. The story begins in the early 1960's and the car accident that left his mother in a coma. After awakening from the coma, her personality was vastly different. She recovered enough to return home. Her walking was hindered by a stiff awkward gait. She was unable to return to the life she'd once lived. Shawn's parents married young. Shawn and his brother, Troy, lived a chaotic home life. From a cluttered home to a fiery tempered mother, everyday was lived in fear of another episode.
Shawn Thornton examines his childhood through the lens of his boyhood and development to manhood. The affects on his personality, emotions, and spiritual life are explored.

My Thoughts:
Joni Eareckson Tada, wrote the foreword. Her name will be mentioned in All But Normal as a book Shawn's mother read and re-read. One of my favorite quotes from the book is written in the foreword.
...the leaders God chooses are often more broken than strong, more damaged than whole, more troubled than secure. God's most effective leaders don't rise to power in spite of their weakness; they lead with power because of their weakness. By the last page of this book, you'll be convinced that God's greatest leaders seem to rise up from beds of nails, not roses. Page ix. 
Several reasons led me to give All But Normal, 5 stars for excellent:
  • A transparent view of a dysfunctional family across five decades, including the long-term after effects. 
  • A first time Christian work on the effects of a brain injury and a mental health disorder. 
  • A coming of age story. 
  • God at work in the individuals even during a chaotic period. 
  • I felt Shawn Thornton is honest and does not downplay the incidents, but he is loving and respectful to his parents. 
  • All But Normal shows how God prepared the author for service in ministry despite the hard life situations growing up.