Waiting for Normal

by Leslie Conner

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The protagonists of Waiting For Normal and I am Malala had to overcome difficult and even dangerous obstacles.  Using three events from each book, how can I write an essay comparing and contrasting Addie and Malala? I have to discuss their struggles, how they coped with their hardships, how they both relate to the themes of hope and perseverance, and how they feared at the conclusion of the story.

Expert Answers

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The first issue you will need to address in your essay is that the two books are in very different genres. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai is a true autobiography of a real and extremely courageous young woman who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her struggles. Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor is a young adult novel; the incidents in it did not really happen.

Your first step in writing your essay is deciding on a central thesis. This will enable you to choose which incidents to cover to support your point, rather than simply selecting incidents at random. As you make this choice, consider whether you want to emphasize the similarities between the two young girls, namely that they have both endured difficult situations and persevered, or the main difference, that while Addie is a young girl in difficult circumstances, she is mainly struggling for herself as an individual, while Malala is a genuinely heroic figure, a young girl with the courage to stand up against the Taliban, who has persisted in fighting for women's right for an education despite being shot by the Taliban and living under constant death threats. 

In both stories, you should start by describing one event that shows the girls early in their lives when they were happy, perhaps Malala drawing mathematical symbols on her hands as a young girl and Addie with Dwight. Next, you could describe how their lives are transformed for the worse, e.g. by Dwight being divorced by Addie's mother and the Taliban moving into Malala's town, and finally dicuss some incident later in the two girls' lives which exemplifies their struggle against bad external circumstances, such as their redemptive use of creativity in the form of Malala's blogging and Addie's music.

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