The Promise of a Normal Life
Rebecca Kaiser Gibson
For readers of Marilynne Robinson, Elizabeth Strout, and Katie Kitamura, The Promise of a Normal Life by Rebecca Kaiser Gibson (Feb. 7, 2023 / Arcade) is the story of an indelible journey of a quiet, introverted Jewish girl and woman—the “silent person”—finding her way in 1960s America. Oh, what the lives we all live all in our ways. ‘The Promise of a Normal Life’ is an adult novel written by Rebecca Kaiser Gibson. This is the story of a woman and her various journeys through growing up and getting an education in more ways than one. She then gets married but still feels that she is lost somehow both physically and emotionally. She discovers herself in many ways and slowly begins to understand why she has done what she has done. This is also a story that covers the decades of the late 50s through the late 80s and how people change with the times, and yet still stay the same. Lessons are learned, but some keep repeating themselves over and over again. ‘The Promise of a Normal Life’ is a story that shows us that normal is what one makes of it. We all see ‘normal’ as individuals and how we ‘fit in’. Rebecca Kaiser Gibson wrote this novel to explain various kinds of mental illness and how we all look at those who are going through issues. This is also a book that could show us how we look at things to get us through what we need to do each day in living our lives. Rebecca wrote this novel from a technical aspect using short chapters to keep the reader reading to see how things work out. ‘The Promise of a Normal Life’ would make a great discussion group for a Women’s discussion group or even as a supplement in a Marriage and Family program for there are many issues that could be discussed like ‘Do you think the main character made the right choices and decisions for all involved at the different phases of her life? She also wrote this novel using a narrator just sharing the story as a friend helping a friend make decisions about the choices that she made throughout the book.
2023ISBN: 978-1-956763-33-1 Arcade Publishing 266 pages
The Promise of a Normal Life is a poet’s debut novel, so evocative of life as lived that it transports you to a time and place you can practically see, touch, and feel. The unnamed narrator is a fiercely observant, introverted Jewish-American girl who seems to exist in a private and separate realm. She’s the child of a first-generation doctor and lawyer—whose own stories have the loud grandeur of family legend—in an America where Jews are excluded from the country club across the street. Her expectations for adulthood are often contradictory. In the changing landscape of the 1960s, she attempts to find her way through the rituals of life, her geography expanding across the country, across the ocean, and into multiple nations.
Along the way, she meets a glamorous hairdresser on a cruise ship to Israel, loopy tarot-card-reading passengers, and Alice-in-Wonderland lawyers in Haifa. There’s a blue-eyed all-American college boyfriend, a mystified tourist agent in the Lofoten Islands, a handsome eligible rabbi in LA, a righteous and self-absorbed MIT professor, and a clandestine, calculating lover in Boston. Eventually, she finds her compass, but only after being swept to several distant shores by many winds.
About the Author
Rebecca Kaiser Gibson is the author of the poetry collections Girl as Birch and Opinel.
Her work has appeared in Slate, Agni, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Northwest Review, the Massachusetts Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Harvard Review, Green Mountain Review, Pleiades, and many other magazines.
She taught creative writing at Tufts University for twenty-three years. Rebecca has received writing fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She lives in Marlborough, NH.
Her website is: https://rebeccakaisergibson.com/