Yes, Norman, I wanted to say. Maybe. Maybe your biological father will get over the shock of finding out he has a fully formed pre-teen son as a result of a brief encounter in a pub car park or a student bedsit with a totally forgettable girl. Maybe he and his lovely wife will be delighted at the prospect of a new addition to their family of high-achieving kids. And maybe the Edinburgh Fringe will welcome an unknown twelve-year-old boy with dubious comic timing as their headline act and next year you’ll sell out Wembley and your father will be the proudest man alive, clapping from the front row. Maybe all that will happen and you’ll be too busy and too deliriously happy to remember your dead best friend and having to look after your mother, when she should be looking after you.

If you’re looking for an uplifting read then Julietta Henderson’s debut novel, The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is for you.

Jax and Norman are best friends with a plan to be a fantastic comedy duo at the Edinburgh Fringe, but when Jax suddenly dies, Norman is left floundering. At this point, in steps Norman’s mum, Sadie, who, despite feeling woefully inadequate, promises to help Norman find his unknown father and get to the Edinburgh Fringe, even without his trusty partner in comedy.

Told in dual point of view, The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, is a quirky and heartwarming story of grief, family, and having the confidence to step outside your fears to face the future and follow your dreams.

On a personal note, I’ve lived with psoriasis for some 33 years and to see a protagonist go through some of my daily trials was surprisingly affirming. People with scabby skin conditions are not often in novels! Also, a big thank you to the author for not curing Norman’s psoriasis with a bath in Chinese tea!

If you loved Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, then The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman should definitely be your next read.

Many thanks to the good folks at Penguin for sending me a copy of The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman to read.

Here’s the blurb:

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is an inspiring, feel-good novel about a small boy with a big heart, a woman who would do anything for her son, and a journey that will change their lives …

Little Miss Sunshine meets Wonder meets A Man Called Ove in this stunning debut novel that will touch your heart.

“What do you get when you cross a painfully awkward son, lofty comedic ambition and a dead best friend? Norman.”

Norman and Jax are a legendary comedy duo in the making, with a five-year plan to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe by the time they’re fifteen. But then Jax dies before they even turn twelve.

Norman’s mum Sadie knows she won’t win Mother of the Year anytime soon, and she really doesn’t know, or care, who Norman’s father is. But her heart is broken when she discovers her grieving son’s revised plan: ‘Find Dad’ and ‘Get to the Edinburgh Fringe’. 

If meeting his dad and performing at the Festival are the two things that will help Norman through this devastating time, then Sadie is going to make them happen. 

So mother and son set off from Cornwall, with their friend Leonard in his vintage Austin Maxi, on a pilgrimage to Edinburgh – to honour Jax and to track down a few maybe-fathers on the way . . .

‘Charming and warm-hearted’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘Sensational debut by Australian writer Julietta Henderson… This is one novel that meaningfully earns the description of “feel-good”.’ Apple Books Review
‘Serves up plenty of rollicking misadventures and cathartic heartstring tugs along the way. The literary equivalent of a feelgood British comedy film . . . page-turning summer read for fans of writers such as Graeme Simsion, David Nicholls and Sue Townsend.’ Books+Publishing
‘One of those gorgeous books that completely lifts your spirits and restores your faith in humanity. An utterly lovely tale.’ Ruth Jones, actress and author of Never Greener

‘What a charming, funny and cheering read. There’s such a lovely, buoyant innocence to Norman and his quest – a coming-of-age that tickles and moves in equal measure.’ Beth Morrey, author of Saving Missy

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is funny. It is charming, warm, and uplifting as well. There is so much to love about this book.’ Laurie Frankel, author of This is How it Always Is

‘A book full of hope, humour and kindness, with one of the most endearing central characters I’ve met in a long time. An utter delight!’ Sarah Haywood, author of The Cactus

“The funny thing about Norman Foreman is that he’s wheedled his way into my heart, and I suspect I’ll have a Norman shaped hole there forever.” Clare Pooley, author of The Authenticity Project
‘What a delightful read! Hilarious and heartwarming, with one “helluva” brave, wise and lovable hero. Three cheers for Norman Foreman.’ Hazel Prior, author of Away with the Penguins

‘An absolutely wonderful book. Inspiring, hilarious, and so poignant. I ADORE Norman . . . I can’t wait to read it again and I highly recommend it.’ Jessica Ryan, author of The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside