By Julietta Henderson—MIRA, 2021
There’s so very much to love about this uplifting, character-driven tale. Norman, age 12, has lost his best friend, Jax, who has died. His adoring mother, Sadie, and her coworker, Leonard, embark on a quest to help Norman fulfill his and Jax’s dream to compete at the country’s premier comedy competition, the Edinburgh Fringe. Friendless without Jax, Norman also decides he needs to find the father he never knew—but his mom isn’t even sure who he is. Sadie, a wounded soul with her own grief, is determined to help Norman process his monumental loss, but it’s only when 80-something Leonard agrees to join the quest that the threesome heads off. Leonard is the brains behind the trip; he brings the common sense, the computer savvy and a lifetime of useful skills, upon which Sadie and Norman draw time and time again. Leonard is the reason we recommend this book; he works as a custodian and bore the brunt of every ageist joke the boss could spew. There’s more to Leonard than meets the eye, but can he find a missing father? Nothing goes strictly according to plan, but throughout the odyssey, Norman Foreman, the “Little Big Man of Comedy,” gets a chance to shine.