Beverly Thornton was a vivacious, friendly, outgoing, smart teenager.  On the day before a family trip, she pestered her parents to let her exchange a shirt.  Her casual boyfriend, John, would take her in his convertible.  Exhausted and busy with packing, her parents agreed.

What was to be a simple trip to the store was life changing for both Beverly and John.  John turned in front of a car and crashed.  While he sustained minor injuries, Beverly sustained a head injury that was so severe she was in a coma for a time.

When she finally came out of the coma, her personality had changed dramatically, and John, full of guilt, had to decide whether to stay with Beverly or move on with his life.  He chose to stay.

The rest of All But Normal: Life on Victory Road by Shawn Thornton depicts the chaos that would become the Thorntons’ lives.

During a stint in the military, John marries Beverly.  He’s still in the service, serving in Vietnam, when their first child, Shawn is born.  Another child, Troy, follows three years later.

Shawn and Troy grow up in a chaotic household.  Beverly, on the one hand, is deeply religious and heavily involved in church, and she has a special kinship with anyone who is going through difficulties, is disabled, or has a temporary injury.

On the other hand, she’s a tyrant prone to violence who once threw a knife at John, sending it straight through his earlobe.

In the midst of all of this chaos, Shawn and Troy do their best to survive, wishing desperately that they had families like their friends.  It’s only when they’re older that they realize not all families are as happy as they appear on the surface.

This book is an excellent read that kept my attention.  I wondered how the boys would grow up to be productive adults and why Beverly’s personality changed so dramatically after the car accident.  I also wondered how John could stay with Beverly for so many years, despite her rage, violence, and incessant threats of divorce.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

Note: Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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