Winner of the 2013 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, Like Any Normal Day is a profound, powerful narrative of a golden boy's tragedy, a woman's unlived life, and a brother's complicated devotion.
In the mid-1970s, brothers Buddy and Jimmy Miley were close, both on the verge of impressive athletic careers. A promising high school quarterback, Buddy's potential was cut short by an injury that left him quadriplegic. Immobile and imprisoned in his body for decades, Buddy would watch life pass by from his wheelchair, living at home under his mother's and brother's care, and wondering what his life could have been.
Buddy and Jimmy visited special hospitals and traveled to Lourdes in search of a miracle, never losing hope as they searched for a cure. But as Buddy suffered increasing pain, and also realized that he would never be able to walk again—and never prove himself capable of being loved by Karen, a woman he'd first met in high school—he asked Jimmy to help him end his life.
Beautifully written, both heart-wrenching and hopeful, Mark Kram Jr.'s Like Any Normal Day explores the important bonds between families and the depths of what we're willing to do for those we love.
Like Any Normal Day is the winner of the 2013 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing.
That autumn Friday night in 1973 started out like any other, with crosstown rivals, William Tennent High School and Plymouth Whitemarsh, squaring off on the gridiron against each other. Leading Tennent was quarterback Buddy Miley, a flashy but outstanding player who modeled himself after Joe Namath and Pistol Pete Maravich. Well-liked by his teammates and beloved by his schoolmates, Miley's impressive athletic ability had already gained the attention of several college scouts. Across the line, defensive player Carmen Frangeosi Jr. hated quarterbacks; they aggravated him with their air of superiority. On game night, Frangeosi's coach assigned him to Miley, telling the defensive player to hit Miley every time the quarterback touched the ball. Early in the game, Frangeosi tackled Miley in a bone-jarring hit that left Miley a quadriplegic, stopping short Miley's football career and shooting him into a downward spiral in his life. After Miley's injury on the field, his little brother, Jimmy, devoted hours and hours to his older brother, keeping him company and providing entertainment when Miley is down. Miley struggles with his pain, his loss of mobility, and the inability ever to live life in the way he had once dreamed. When Miley decides that he can't stand the emotional and physical pain any longer, he asks Jimmy to help him end his life; Jimmy does so out of his overwhelming love for his brother but with ethical questions that gnaw at him forever. Drawing on interviews with Miley's family and friends, Philadelphia sportswriter Kram elegantly tells a poignant and sad tale of struggle, loss, and love that illustrates both how quickly life can change and how deep our bonds to our families grow through times of crisis.