When Diggy was one month old his mom left him in a laundry basket on Pop's (everyone calls him Pop's) doorstep and went riding out of town on his tractor. Diggy really hasn't given her another thought, until Mr. Graf shows up one day and drops Wayne on Pop's doorstep telling him that he's Wayne's dad. Apparently the whole thing came to light when Mrs. Graf died recently. Just in that little piece, you really get a feel for the plot, but there is so much more to it then just that. Wayne and Diggy come at the story from two very different perspectives but they really have more in common then even they know. Wayne is the boy who losses his mom to Cancer and has a father so wrapped up in his grief that he takes to drinking and does and says really hurtful things to his son. Diggy is the boy who's mom may still be alive but she has never sought him out. You just want to reach out and hug these two boys. Petruck does a wonderful job of balancing the weightiness of the plot themes (alcoholism, death of a parent, abandonment) with humorous pranks that the boys and Pop play on each other leaving room for jealousy, fun sibling rivalry and good old fashion fighting. Reading Steering Toward Normal was like I was visiting the State Fair back in Maryland, with a behind the scenes tour. I enjoyed and grew a better appreciation for what it takes to raise a prize winning steer. A wonderful story about family, loss, letting go, and well the title says it all, "Steering Toward Normal". Included at the back of the book is information about 4-H, how ribbons are awarded at the fair, various terms and tools used with livestock and my favorite the "prank-steer guide." Favorite line, "A door that's shut too long gets hard to open. It's better to leave it cracked a couple of inches."
My review copy was from Abrams books as a part of a giveaway offered during March MG Madness at Word Spelunking Steering Toward Normal will be released on May 13th 2014 by Amulet Books
*ETA 5/14 My review copy was donated to the Public School Library (I'm hoping some 4-H's get a chance to read it).