In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea’s family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in northern Alberta. But unlike most commune dwellers of the time, the Persons weren’t trying to build a new society—they wanted to escape civilization altogether. Led by Cea’s grandfather Dick, they lived in a canvas Teepee, grew pot, and hunted and gathered to survive.
Living out her grandparents’ dream with her teenage mother, Michelle, young Cea knew little of the world beyond her forest. She spent her summers playing nude in the meadow and her winters snowshoeing behind the grandfather she idolized. Despite fierce storms, food shortages and the occasional drug-and-sex-infused party for visitors, it was a happy existence. For Michelle, however, there was one crucial element missing: a man. When Cea was five, Michelle took her on the road with a new boyfriend. As the trio set upon a series of ill-fated adventures, Cea began to question both her highly unusual world and the hedonistic woman at the centre of it—questions that eventually evolved into an all-consuming search for a more normal life. Finally, in her early teens, Cea realized she would have to make a choice as drastic as the one her grandparents once had made in order to get the life she craved.
From nature child to international model by the age of thirteen, Cea’s astonishing saga is one of long-held family secrets and extreme family dysfunction, all in an incredibly unusual setting. It is also the story of one girl’s deep-seated desire for normality—a desire that enabled her to risk everything, overcome adversity and achieve her dreams.
In this affecting memoir, Person describes growing up in the early 1970s amid the "tipi camp" where her extended family was squatting on Indian lands in Alberta, Canada. With a free-spirited teenage mother the daughter of a Korean War vet and forest ranger who yearned to live in nature unencumbered by the U.S. government Person was doted upon by her pot-smoking grandparents and uninhibited if emotionally erratic aunts and uncles (one uncle, Dane, moved in and out of a mental asylum), although it was challenging living in tipis with no running water, eating whatever her grandfather, Papa Dick, happened to hunt, and using the communal "shit pit," all in a harsh northern climate. As long as she had her mother close, Person was happy, except that her mother had to find men to support them, and therein began a peripatetic cycle of moving in with one marijuana-growing, thieving boyfriend after another, or back to the tipis with her grandparents. From time to time Person did visit her father, a middle-class professional established in a new marriage in San Francisco, yet it was a modeling competition at age 13 that allowed her finally to feel somewhat "normal" and find her own identity.
Extremely well written.Very captivating and hard to put down.Loved it!!!
Cea’s life read like a rollercoaster movie! She lived in the wilderness with her untraditional family in northern Alberta with her grandparents, aunts and mother till she was five. They smoke pot, lived in a tipi and hunted for their food in nature.Then with a stunt of her mom finding boyfriends for survival, she lived like a hitchhiker for several years unsure of her safety and breaking into homes with her mom and boyfriends to live. No wonder she never felt normal and crave a regular life. It was with a twist of turns, that she was able to escape that life and became a successful model. Because of her resilience she was able to decipher that field and become successful against all odds. After reading this book, I really appreciate the stability of my life. It’s a gift people take for granted. I’m looking forward to reading book #2 to find out more about her adventures with her family in northern Canada.
Northampton of Normal