DREAMING OF NORMAL, by Reina Luz Alegre

Like everyone, I’m stressed, worried, hoping, praying, and longing for things to please go back to ‘normal.’ Literally the whole world is trapped in a Pandemic. But it’s just a moment in time. It too shall pass. Or so I try to remind myself when tears threaten. When everything seems like too much.

And though the current state of the planet is a whole other level, to be honest, I’ve been dreaming of normal and falling short to some extent my entire life. Every problem, every insecurity, always standing in the way of the idyllic normal in my head. I think maybe we all do this, at least a bit? Particularly in middle school—a time beset by so much physical and emotional change under even the best of circumstances. A time when perhaps many of us wanted so badly to just feel normal. To fit in with friends. To be understood by our families. To like what we saw when we glanced in the mirror.

The pre-Pandemic, contemporary world of my upcoming MG debut THE DREAM WEAVER is very different than the current one we suddenly find ourselves in. Yet twelve-year-old main character Zoey still longs for normal there too.

Zoey wants to put down roots. But her dad keeps dragging his kids around the country in pursuit of impulsive, often irresponsible career changes. Zoey wishes she had a solid group of friends. But constantly moving around makes it hard to build and maintain friendships. Zoey longs to dress like other girls her age. But she isn’t sure how to go about figuring out fashion yet. Typical junior high worries mixed with heavier ones. Then, at the beginning of the story, Zoey’s dad dumps her indefinitely at grandpa’s house while her big brother prepares to head off for college, and Zoey’s future is abruptly more uncertain than ever as those she loves most slip away.

But Zoey adapts. She grows closer to grandpa. She makes friends, has fun hanging out at the beach, and resourcefully plots to save grandpa’s boardwalk bowling alley. She finds her backbone and where she belongs. By the end of the story, Zoey is living a ‘new normal’ too—one in which she’s thriving, despite not having everything she wanted at the beginning of the book. Some things are better, others worse, a few remain to be seen. And that’s life. Adjusting to new normals all the time. Doing our best. G-d Willing, when we’re finally able to do all the fun summer stuff Zoey does in THE DREAM WEAVER—normal things like going to the beach or hanging out with loved ones in person—I bet it will all feel extraordinary.

But, for now, happy reading!

Reina Luz Alegre lives in the Miami area with her family. She’s dreamed of becoming an author since the second grade, and grew up to work on various other professional dreams—including as a freelance journalist and lawyer—before debuting her first novel, The Dream Weaver, which comes out June 23, 2020 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. When she’s not writing, Reina loves to read, sing, and salivate over baking shows. Follow her on Twitter at @ReinaLuzAlegre and read more about The Dream Weaver at https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Dream-Weaver/Reina-Luz-Alegre/9781534462311.

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