Blog Tour Stop & Excerpt: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson

Today, I’m so happy to be a tour stop on the blog tour for The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson – I have an excerpt for you to read thanks to MIRA.  

 

Title: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
Author: Julietta Henderson
Published: April 2021, MIRA
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Summary:
A triumphant and touching debut about the unlikeliest superstar you’ll ever meet.

Twelve-year-old
Norman Foreman and his best friend, Jax, are a legendary comedic duo in
waiting, with a plan to take their act all the way to the Edinburgh
Fringe. But when Jax dies, Norman decides the only fitting tribute is to
perform at the festival himself. The problem is, Norman’s not the funny
one. Jax was.

There’s also another, far more colossal objective
on Norman’s new plan that his single mom, Sadie, wasn’t ready for: he
wants to find the father he’s never known. Determined to put a smile
back on her boy’s face, Sadie resolves to face up to her own messy past,
get Norman to the Fringe and help track down a man whose identity is a
mystery, even to her.

Julietta Henderson’s delightfully
charming, tender and uplifting debut takes us on a road trip with a
mother and son who will live in the reader’s heart for a long time to
come, and teaches us that—no matter the odds—we must always reach for
the stars.


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About the author: Julietta Henderson is a full-time writer and comedy fan who splits her time between her home country of Australia and the UK. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is Julietta’s first novel.

Author links:  Website  |    Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads

Buy Links:

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Excerpt:

1

SADIE

 

When I was born my insides lay outside my body for twenty-one days. Which is unexpected but not nearly as unusual as you might think. For every 3,999 other babies that come out with everything tucked in neatly and sealed away exactly where it should be, there’s one like me. Nobody really knows why. Luck of the draw, my father used to say.

For those three weeks while I lay spread-eagled in an incubator like a Nando’s special, a crowd of doctors gathered every morning to discuss their cleverness and, as my organs shrank to their correct size, bit by bit they gently posted a little more of the me-parts that had made a break for it back inside.

Well that’s the way my mother told it anyway. The way my father told it, the doctors gathered around the incubator every morning to discuss whether they’d be having my large intestine or my liver for their lunch, and whether it’d be with chips or salad. And that right there might tell you almost everything you need to know about my parents.

On my insides’ final day of freedom the head surgeon pushed the last bit through the slit in my stomach and stitched it closed, presumably with everything in its rightful place. I was declared whole and sent home to begin life like almost nothing had every happened.

Except that even when the regular hospital check-ups stopped, and the scar on my stomach that I’d never lived without faded to a thin silver seam, I can always remember still feeling the tugging behind it. Something I could never quite name, nudging at the fleshy edges whenever things were going badly, or too well. Or just for fun. To remind me how easily those parts of me that never really fit could come sliding out. Any time we like Sadie. Any time we like.

 

It wasn’t until I held my own son for the first time that the constant, dull pressure of keeping the scar together receded. When a nurse place that slippery, crumpled up bundle of boy on my chest, I tightened my grip on a handful of hospital sheet as my world creaked on its axis, bumped into a comfy spot and, was finally facing the right way.

 

I didn’t feel the tug on the scar again until a different boy died, and to say I wasn’t ready for it isn’t even the most important thing. Because by then there was a lot more at stake than just my own stupid insides spilling out into the world. I was as scared as hell and I had no idea how to fix any of it. And that right there might tell you almost everything you need to know about me. 

2

NORMAN

 First rule of comedy: Timing is everything

Timing is everything. First rule of comedy, Jax says. Because when push comes to shove, if you can get the timing right you can get a laugh. He says. Well I don’t really know how to tell when push is coming to shove but I’ll tell you something I do know. That rule works the other way too. Because when the you-know-what starts to hit the fan, if your timing’s wrong there’s pretty much zilcho you can do to stop it from splattering all over the place.

Stare straight ahead and thing about nothing. That’s a world famous Jax Fenton tactic for what to do when you get yourself into a bit of a mess. Works every time he reckons and he should know. Only maybe it doesn’t. Because when I stare straight ahead all I can see is that big shiny wooden box and instead of nothing I’m thinking about everything. And loads of it. Like does any light ever get in through the joins and did they let Jax wear his Frankie Boyle Tramadol Nights tour t-shirt. And does whoever put him in there know he only likes to sleep on his side.

 

The massive scab on my chest feels so tight that I’m scared to breathe too deep in case it splits down the middle and bleeds all over my new shirt. Stare straight ahead. I move just a bit so I almost can’t see the box behind a couple of heads and my arm touches Mum’s. When I feel her, straight away the mess on my chest relaxes and lets me take half an almost good in-breath. Nearly a whole one. Right before it stabs me all the way through to my back and kazams like a rocket down to my toes. I’m pretty sure I can hear it laughing. Timing is everything, sucker.

 

And by the way, that’s another thing I know. That you can’t trust your timing no matter how good it’s been in the past. Not even for people as excellently funny as Ronnie Barker or Dave Allen or Bob Mortimer. Or Jax.

 

Because even if you nick a little bit of money for sweets every week-day morning from your mum’s purse, even if you accidentally-on-purpose leave your stepfather’s car door open so the cat’s get in and wee on the seats, and even if you’re the naughtiest kid in the whole school by a long shot, when you’re eleven years, 297 days and from what the paramedics can tell anything between twelve and sixteen hours old, it’s definitely not a good time to die.

 

Stare straight ahead and think about nothing.

 

 

3

SADIE

 

Squashed into the end of the pew with my body leaning into the shape of the space that Norman’s made, I could feel the tense and release of his arms as his small boy hands curled in and out of fists. The buttoned down cuffs of his sleeves rode up ever so slightly with every movement to reveal the trail of psoriasis that spread triumphantly down to the second knuckles. His face was blank as a brick. Dry eyes staring straight ahead.

 

‘Just hold on. Hold on son. You’ll get through this.’ I murmured reassuringly. Telepathically. But Norman’s hands kept on curling and flexing and then I noticed his chest was keeping time, rising and collapsing with the movement of his hands. I knew what was lying in wait underneath the thin fabric of his shirt, so then I had another thing to worry about.

 

I had to admit it looked like he wasn’t getting my message, possibly because my best telepathic motherly voice was being all but drowned out by the other, very much louder one that lived in luxury inside my head. Fuck you Sadie. You can’t even get this right. As usualy it wasn’t pulling any punches.  

 

The priest who had never met him declared the end to Jax’s life and people began shuffling out of the pews as fast as they could, as if death might still be handing around looking for company. They knocked our knees, murmured apologies and spilled their overflow of sadness all over us. Like we needed it. The moving huddle in the aisle parted from the back as Jax’s parents set off on their million mile walk, and without turning my head I felt more than saw Josie Fenton hesitate ever so slightly as they passed us. But then they were gon. And my son’s eyes remained fixed on some invisible point that I could only hope lay somewhere far, far beyond the awfulness of the moment.

 

A good forty minutes after the last person had left, I reached for Norman’s nearest hand and closed it gently between mine. The chill of the empty church had sidled deep into my bones and I was shocked at the heat of his raw knuckles on my palms. The voice in my head began stage whispering nonsense louder and louder and Norman’s hand stayed rigid in its fist. But I didn’t need that voice to tell me what I’d already figured out about thirty-eight minutes before. I wasn’t going to be nearly enough for this.

 

Excerpted from The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman @ 2021 by Julietta Henderson, used with permission by MIRA Books.

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Hope I’ve enticed you to pick this book up with this excerpt…that it gives you a flavor of the book. 

 

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