Diggy Lawson is not your typical eighth grader. Instead of spending his time playing video games and texting his friends, Diggy enjoys being a member of 4-H and raising cattle to compete in the Minnesota State Fair. 4-H is an organization for people to join in the areas of environmentalism, animal care, veterinary science, and many more. With this organization, members must pledge to a clearer thinking about their world by using the four H’s: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. Diggy loves being a part of 4-H and has a crush on a girl named July, who has competed and won at the Minnesota State Fair multiple times. This year, she is not competing and Diggy is convinced it is his year to win. Not only has he selected a great calf that is bred to win, he has the support of July and his father.
Of course, life never turns out the way we expect it to. Just as Diggy is daydreaming about the great year he is about to have, a tragedy strikes. One of his classmates, Wayne Graf, experiences a death in his family. His mother has passed away and his father turns to alcohol to cope with the pain. While Diggy sympathizes for Wayne, he doesn’t see a correlation in their lives. This correlation soon becomes clear when the truth of Wayne’s biological father comes to light. Diggy and Wayne are half brothers, they share the same father. Suddenly Diggy’s world is turned upside down. He no longer has the close relationship with his father because his father is building an overdue relationship with Wayne. July has been busy working on the farm and hasn’t given Diggy or his calf the proper attention and training he needs to win at the fair this year. She has also been spending her time helping Wayne adjust to his new life. Diggy’s life is not going as planned and he is determined to ensure Wayne doesn’t continue ruining it.
By learning to adjust to his new brother, Diggy begins to act out of character. He gets grounded (for the first time in his life!), gets in multiple arguments with July, and even gets into a physical fight with Wayne. Realizing he is allowing his life to spiral out of control, Diggy determines to right it.
Throughout Rebecca Petruck’s Steering Toward Normal, readers will laugh and empathize with the journey Diggy endures. He must learn to build a brotherly relationship with Wayne, share his time with his father, compete and win at the fair, all while trying to win the love and attention of July. This novel is fitting for young adult readers who enjoy nature, learning about nature and farms, and accepting the love family and friends offer one another.
- Posted by Jacquie