“…nearly 75% of us experience adversity by the age of 20. But these experiences are often kept secret, as are our courageous battles to overcome them. Drawing on nearly two decades of work with clients and students, Jay tells the tale of ordinary people made extraordinary by these all-too-common experiences.”
Meg Jay has really delved into this topic with insight and sensitivity. Some of the chapters really resonated with me, even as I struggled with the concept of the horrible human circumstances that some people grow up with (eg. sexual/physical/mental abuse, neglect or alcoholism). The statistics on how many brilliant people come from adversity were really eye opening.
Jay debunks the myth of normality and summarises the research that indeed suggests that a normal childhood is rare, and in fact having an adverse childhood can make people stronger and more resilient. Jay lists a set of words that ‘Supernormals’ might identify with, and not all of them are positive. Many Supernormals report feeling inadequate or like they are wearing a permanent mask or running a constant charade.Yet, there is hope for them to come to recognise that they ARE good enough and that they aren’t fakes.
What was the most important thing that I took away from this book? That the key to survival and to thrive is to be resilient. To just keep going. But also, to recognize that to be strong is sometimes to ask for help, whether that be from close family or friends who can actively and openly listen to you, or a kind and understanding therapist who is invested in your life. The final thing is that forming relationships is an essential part to being human, and those that most need them are often the most afraid to form them.
Remember that I had just read Shapeshifters, a similarly written non-fiction novel about changes in the human body. Supernormal was better written in my opinion, because the research and the human stories were intertwined and really complimented one another. I found this book to be superior! It was fascinating and horrifying in equal measures, and I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of it and using it as a conversation starter.
Allen & Unwin | 21st February 2018 | AU$32.99 | paperback