The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson

To celebrate the recent paperback publication of one of my favourite books of 2021, I’m sharing my 5 star review again.


It was a journey they would always remember . . . for a friend they’d never forget.

Norman and Jax are a legendary comedic duo in waiting, with a five-year plan to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe by the time they’re fifteen. But when Jax dies before they turn twelve, Norman decides a tribute act for his best friend just can’t wait, so he rewrites their plan: 

1. Look after mum | 2. Find Dad | 3. Get to the Edinburgh Fringe

Sadie knows she won’t win Mother of the Year and she’s not proud she doesn’t know who her son’s father is. But when she finds Norman’s list, all she wants is to see her son smile again… So they set off on a pilgrimage to Edinburgh, making a few stops to find Norman’s dad along the way.

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman is an inspiring, feel-good novel about a small boy with a big heart – and even bigger dreams. 

My thoughts:

Having seen early reviews for this book, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review it myself. I just wish I had been able to is down and read the book in a day, rather than over three due to work and family commitments – I didn’t want to put it down. Norman is an unusual name for a young boy – my great Uncle Norman would have been about 92 now.

The story isn’t just about Norman, but also about a superb supporting set of characters, from his mum Sadie, his recently deceased best friend Jax, the cleaner at Sadie’s work, Leonard and the people they meet on their journey.

Norman and Sadie take turns to tell their stories including the happy days with Jax and how they dealt with his death. Sadie has made a friend at work, Leonard, who helps her cope with working for a misogynistic car dealing boss, and also to help Norman tackle his newly revised plan.

There are heartbreaking moments, including the death of Jax and also Sadie’s dad. However this book is also full of humour, as Norman meets his potential fathers (if it is good enough for Donna in Mamma Mia and it works here too), hones his comedy routines and tries out new accommodation (loved the Lenny Henry mentions). This is a non spoiler review so I can’t want give anything more away about the comedy moments without giving clues to the story.

Sadie is trying to do her best for Norman, and we find out how what happened in her past has led to this moment in time. We also find out more about Leonard, who I found myself wishing had been allowed a chapter or two of his own.

This is an emotional book, as you find yourself hoping for the best for Norman and Sadie. This is a book I will be reading again, and will be recommending far and wide. I was left uplifted by the story but bereft at leaving Norman, Sadie and Leonard behind. I look forward to reading more by Julietta Henderson in the future.


By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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