Growing up, they didn’t believe they had a future. Together, they are building forever.
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Alexis Black was six when her mother died and thirteen when her father went to prison for child endangerment. After subsequently surviving a long and abusive relationship, the college junior promised her foster parents that she would avoid romantic entanglements for at least a year. But when she met incoming freshman Justin on the first day of their scholarship program, they both felt the world melt away, leaving just the two of them in the room.
Justin Black lived in abandoned houses in the poorest section of Detroit before his parents surrendered him to CPS at the age of nine. He stayed in the child welfare system until he was graduated from high school. Determined to be the first in his family to pursue higher education, Black attended Western Michigan University, where he met beautiful third-year Alexis. At first, their past traumas--and their age difference--conspired to complicate their attraction. But the joy each took in the other eventually conquered those obstacles, and these two survivors journeyed hand-in-hand toward healing.
In their stark and often shocking story, Alexis and Justin reveal how two people brutalized in childhood managed to defy the odds, get healthy, and build a new life together. Guided by hope and a sense of purpose, as well as a desire to help others who have similarly suffered, they learned to reject the abusive patterns of their past, thereby breaking the cycle of generational violence and neglect.
Written in alternating accounts, Justin and Alexis offer a thoughtful exchange of ideas and personal experiences illustrating how anybody, no matter their background, can heal and find joy.
Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovering Healing, Happiness, and Love is a page-turner of a memoir that will restore readers’ faith in dreaming big. Honest and vulnerable, this story is raw, wrenching, and necessary. Once you’ve read Redefining Normal, you will never perceive the plight of foster youth as an abstract statistic again. Justin and Alexis take you into the rooms where things happened, and their searing accounts will stay with you.
*This story contains factual depictions of domestic violence, trauma, sexual assault, and other difficult issues faced on the road to healing.