North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both

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Cea Sunrise Person grew up thinking her childhood was normal: days spent among wildflower fields and forests, nights inside the canvas walls of a freestanding tipi. Her family, including her outspoken grandfather Papa Dick and her teenage mother Michelle, lived in the wilderness of Alberta and survived — more or less — off the land.

One day, Michelle left the relatively idyllic counter-cultural family settlement and hit the road with a new boyfriend, bringing five-year-old Cea along. The months and years that followed were filled with harrowing adventures and various brushes with the law, including a summer spent pillaging vacant vacation homes. Through it all, Cea began to understand that her family’s life was anything but ordinary — and to dream of ways to build a different, more stable future for herself.

Trigger warning for child sexual abuse.

"The journey from southern British Columbia to northern Alberta is a long but picturesque one, with each bend in the road revealing yet another view straight out of a Canadian tourism brochure. Wildflowers sprint from green hillsides, dense forests give way to rippling bodies of water, and snow-topped mountain faces loom against bright blue skies. The scenery, however, was little more than a distraction from my family’s anxious thoughts. It was May of 1971, eighteen months after my birth, and my grandfather was finally on the road to his dream.”

Cea Sunrise Person is a Canadian writer, public speaker, and model. Her books include North of Normal and Nearly Normal. Raised in the provinces of Alberta and Yukon, she now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Published: 2014
Length: 343 pages
Set in: Kootenay Plains and Calgary, Alberta and Yukon, Canada