It;s hard to fathom that Cea Sunrise Person’s memoir North of Normal is real life. Her experiences are very real. I couldn’t put the book down because I had no idea what would happen next. What more could happen? How could something else change? What more could be changed? Person writes with clarity, grace, and feeling.]
Cea Sunrise Person grows up during a unique time in American/Canadian history. When I told my Mom and Dad the premise of the memoir, my Dad replied, “Was this in the ’70s?” He knew. Then I remembered…I have inherited my Dad’s Valdy record collection. He knew.
One of the most striking ideas that hit me as I was reading was the resilience, trust, and then determination of Cea. She lived through some intense, painful, wonderful, gut-wrenching, terrifying, beautiful experiences. On her website, Person has a few Q&A videos. She knew as she was living her life that it was extraordinary. Yet she talks about her shame. Shame in being different. Even as a teen, she realized that she had a story to tell that people would want to read. I can’t help but think of the idea that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. One of the most moving moments in her first video on her website is that she wanted to tell her story for her Mom, who was suffering with caner.
Writing to deal with and overcome the past. That is what she was seeking: trying to understand her own life by exploring her past.
Persons writes a lot about her grandfather, Papa Dick. It was Pap Dick’s idea to move to the wilderness to get off of the grid and to experience the simple life. One of the phrases that stood out to me and stuck with me is what Papa Dick says to Cea: “Welcome this, for life lessons come by experiences and not by chatter” (Pg 120). I realize that in Person’s situation that a lot of what she experienced is abuse. Yet I this phrase stands out: how do we live and learn? By living.
I hope that Person’s life has settled and that she has found peace and forgiveness. I am grateful that she shared her story.