Shannon is thrilled when her mom becomes pregnant. After years of hoping and praying, Shannon will be a big sister. They will be a normal, happy family. Shannon likes normal. As an experienced middle-schooler, she knows that she does not want to stand out, to be weird or different. But when her baby brother is born, things do not go according to plan. God does not seem to be following the rules. And Shannon does something that is so out of character, not even she can explain it. Sent away to Camp Outlook, Shannon has several bizarre experiences, crushes on the student minister, and starts to re-consider how important being ?normal? really is.
This first novel by children's music performer Baker takes on faith, doubt, and normalcy. Seventh grader Shannon, her mom, and dad used to be a "normal" family. Now Shannon's parents are packing her off to church camp and Shannon has decided she is an atheist. Why? Because her parents wanted a sibling for Shannon for so long, her mother had fertility treatments and suffered miscarriages, and finally there's a baby but he's not a normal, healthy baby. He has Down syndrome. God has not answered her prayers. Her parents are overwhelmed. Now Shannon's afraid her peers will ostracize her just like they do Paul Kordinski, who has a brother in a wheelchair. Told in the first person in a conversational, if sometimes clunky style, the writing reflects Shannon's spunk and humor. For example, her underarms are "supremely itchy" around a cute counselor. Despite her atheism, at camp Shannon has several "bizarre" (her word) mystical experiences involving the special needs campers. A believable and relatable portrayal of an adolescent girl struggling with a new normal. Ages 9-13.