Alexis Black, Justin Black
Global Perspectives Publishing (2020)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (01/2021)
“Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love,” by Alexis Black and Justin Black, is a powerful joint-memoir about how two former foster children overcame their broken past to become whole again.
This inspirational self-help book works on two levels: One, it reads like a gripping family drama. And two, it serves as a guide for a reading audience who may be looking for a way up and a way out of an abusive past, tumultuous teenage years, or an uncertain future. Alexis and Justin overcame devastating odds to become successes, but they want to help others too, and this book is one way they’re doing that. Most people who live through the childhoods and backgrounds that the authors did can face a lifetime of social and personal issues, from psychological problems to incarceration to repeating the patterns they grew up with. But these two had each other and were determined to break the cycle. Be warned, there are triggering events depicted, but necessary to the narrative.
This book reads like a novel, but is also sectioned off into easily digestible parts like “Mental Health,” “Worthiness,” etc. The authors are living proof that your past doesn’t define you; sometimes it just makes you stronger. As a former social worker who has worked with foster children, I can attest first-hand that the success stories are painfully few. It was a joy to read this book and discover the resilience, inner beauty, and purpose Alexis and Justin share. Turning lemons into lemonade isn’t as easy as you think, and the authors are brutally honest about their struggles that prove this point. A lot of young people in their shoes give up, or don’t even try. Justin and Alexis are shining examples of how foster kids can excel, with determination, faith, and support. Instead of being stuck on a treadmill of past patterns, they pay it forward, helping thousands if not millions of people who are wondering if they too will make it. Both are now strong advocates in leadership positions.
As you read their emotional journey, you may smile, you may shed a tear, you may get a little angry, but “Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love,” by Alexis Black and Justin Black, will change the way you think about what is possible.