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Like Any Normal Day: A Story of Devotion Hardcover – April 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Like Any Normal Day looks piercingly beyond the moment when the lights dim and the crowds go home in any young athlete's life. Kram's acuity and sympathies stretch far beyond his sportswriter's practiced gaze -- indeed, all the way to the realm of literature. It is not a happy story he has to tell us. But it seems to me -- perhaps for that very reason -- it is an essential and cautionary one. (Richard Ford)

Mark Kram, Jr. offers us an iconic story of the broken promises of youth, the ties that bind and blessings and curses that come with them. Kram honors these characters by giving the reader what was in their lives--the loss, the love, the rage, without commentary or apology. If you can't find yourself somewhere in this book, you're not looking hard enough. (Brad Falchuk, Co-Creator / Executive Producer of "Glee" and "American Horror Story.")

There is nothing normal about Like Any Normal Day. In the spirit of his late father, Mark Kram Jr. has stripped away the mythology and stereotypes of the sporting world and found something deeper, the complicated truth of a profound and haunting story. (David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered)

Mark Kram, Jr. has always been among the nation's very finest newspaper feature writers, and now his book, Like Any Normal Day, exhibits the same superb craft. It is a story that is so sad, yet so filled with every variation of the sweetest love, wonderfully, lovingly told. Kram has drawn the people in it so well that they and the scenes they inhabit will long stay in your memory. (Frank Deford, author of Everybody's All-American)

Like Any Normal Day is both extraordinary and unexpected. It's about more than the famously ruthless mercies applied by Dr. Kevorkian. It is an intimate family history. As constructed by Mark Kram Jr., the narrative begins with a high school football game and drives to that place separating bravery and compassion, longing and love. Kram is an expert reporter, sure, but his beat might well be the human soul. (Mark Kriegel, author of the Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich and Namath)

Like Any Normal Day is anything but normal. It's heart-breaking and heart-warming, a compelling story of brothers, love, tragedy and sports. Mark Kram Jr. takes us on a raw emotional journey that turns into a riveting American story. (Christine Brennan, USA Today columnist, ABC News and NPR commentator, author of Best Seat in the House)

Read this book and Buddy Miley will become part of your life. He will be there every time you see anyone in a wheelchair. He will be there every time the announcer says someone is hurt, lying on a football field and not moving. He will be there every time you think twice about whatever problem is kicking your behind on a particular day, a reminder that things could be worse. Read this book and...just read this book. Terrific. (Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam and Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel)

Kram deftly reveals the intimate details of the story, and he delves into the complex and troubled Miley family dynamics with a skilled reporter's eye.
A heartbreaking story of love and dedication told with remarkable compassion and literary skill.

(Starred Kirkus Review)

A heartbreaking story of love and dedication told with remarkable compassion and literary skill. (Starred Kirkus Review)

Philadelphia sportswriter Kram elegantly tells a poignant and sad tale of struggle, loss and love that illustrates both how quickly life can change and how deep our bonds to our families grow through times of crisis. (Publishers Weekly)

With a reporter's eye for detail and character, Kram takes what could have been a relentlessly depressing story and turns it into one that is equal parts hope and triumph. A potentially controversial book - assisted suicide being a perennially hot-button issue - it is genuinely inspiring. (Booklist)

Whether you agree or disagree with their decision, you'll be unable to turn away from the heartbreaking true story of a paralyzed man and the devoted brother who helps him die. (O, the Oprah Magazine)

Kram's reporting skill shines through as he draws out Buddy's reticent brother Jimmy and high school girlfriend, Karen. The result is an honest, unsentimental and painfully human story. (Sports Illustrated)

It's an upsetting story, and in the hands of a pedestrian reporter, it might prove a story too depressing to pick up. But then you'd miss out on what Mark Kram does best, which is to take the time to listen closely, to discover the power in nuance, to tell the story within the story--old Daily News values, mostly gone now, but not forgotten. (The Philly Post)

Movingly chronicled. (Boston Globe)

Brilliant and heartwrenchingly detailed. (New York Daily News)

Through tender prose, an eye for intimate detail, and a knack for parachuting you right into his characters' heads, Kram's first book is a haunting tale of unconditional love…The book is a gripping tale of life after tragedy. (The Harrisburg Patriot)

This story is told in depth and with sensitivity, insight and heart…it is about life, courage, survival, hope and, mostly, love. It's an amazing story, brilliantly and sensitively told. (Chestnut Hill Local)

Kram presents with compassion and grace such complexities as the dynamics of a family in crisis, the balance of hope with skepticism, and the question of whether, if, and when a person should have the opportunity to end his or her life. (Bill Littlefield on 90.9 WBUR, Boston's NPR News Station)

About the Author

MARK KRAM, JR. writes for The Philadelphia Daily News. His feature articles have won the Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists, been awarded top honors by the Associated Press for three consecutive years, and been published six times in The Best American Sports Writing Anthology. Like Any Normal Day is the winner of the 2013 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. Kram lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312650035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312650032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joe Distelheim on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Your big brother, once the high school football hero you idolized, now has been a quadriplegic for nearly a quarter century after an on-field injury. He asks you to arrange for his death -- with the help of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. How do you respond?

This is the true story of those brothers and the people around them, a love story in many unconventional ways. It's not a tearjerker; Kram doesn't go overboard trying for emotion. He doesn't need to; the meticulously reported story speaks for itself. This is a case of normal people caught in an extraordinary circumstance. It leaves you thinking long after you put it down.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Capodanno VINE VOICE on May 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Like Any Normal Day" is a family story, but one that will rip at your heart through the tragedies of the Miley family. Bert and Rosemarie are emblematic of the post WWII family, WWII vet Bert and Rosemarie marry and settle in a suburb of Philadelphia to raise their family. Of the three boys in the family, Buddy and younger brother Jimmy, are especially close, both good looking and athletic. In 1973, Buddy suffers a tragic injury playing football, becoming a quadriplegic.

Mark Kram builds a poignant tale of Buddy's suffering and the toll it takes on the Miley family over the years. Rosemarie, Buddy's mother, becomes his primary caregiver, giving all sense of a life to wait on Buddy day and night. Buddy's spends his first years as a quadriplegic hoping and actually believing he'll ultimately walk again and resume a normal life, even playing football. As the years go by, the physical and mental anguish start to wear on him.

One theme and relationship that Kram covers with deft is a high school relationship with Karen, Buddy's girlfriend at the time of his injury. From the hours spent at his bedside to their brief but emotional encounters over the next twenty years. Buddy's idealize view of Karen, his regret at what might have been and finally recognition of won't be.

In spite of all the tortured relationships Kram details in the book, the most touching is that of the the older brother, Buddy and his younger brother Jimmy. Jimmy is gifted with similar physical and athletic skills as Buddy. He has his shot at pro baseball, ultimately squandering the chance, returning to Pennsylvania and suffering his own tragic accident which nearly claims his life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Margaret J. Clingan on May 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mark Kram shares with us the story of a young man who lost the life he thought he would live only to live a life that will continue to influence and touch the lives of others for years to come. Buddy Miley could have grown up to be a sports hero admired and adored by fans, but instead he became an even greater hero by living his life in a bed and wheelchair. This amazing story of how Buddy touchd the lives of others while enduring both physical and emotional pain will remain in the hearts of those who read it for years to come. How many of us could smile, love and encourage others while experiencing the hardships Buddy Miley experienced? It's a question you'll ponder as you read this inspiring and unbelievable but true story beautifully written by Mark Kram.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Coach M. Leahy on July 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Since I teach and coach at the high school the main characters attended, I wanted to snap this book up right away on April 24th when it was released. I read it so quickly since I couldn't put it down. Even though I knew the heartbreaking story of Buddy Miley, paralyzed in a football game senior year, I still found the way Mark Kram Jr. put the varied narratives together riveting and compelling.

In addition to personally enjoying this book, I also had the privilege of reading Like Any Normal Day: A Story of Devotion with my students. Teaching this title has truly been a career highlight. For all you teachers out there looking for a new non-fiction title to share with your secondary student, read on.

At a time of the year when my seniors were focused on the prom, graduation, and senior week, this book mesmerized them every day in class. They begged "Can't we just read it? Can we save the discussion for later?" Many of these students, so focused on a million other things, bragged that this book was the first book they stayed up at night to read. Like Any Normal Day appealed to all of my students with captivating sports scenes, emotional details about high school sweethearts, and intense family bonds. After finishing the book, my students commented "Wow, we think we have problems, but so many people suffer more than we know" and "This book taught me never to take a day for granted."

This non-fiction work features the story of Buddy Miley, a high school student who was paralyzed in a football game during his senior year. Buddy lived for 23 years with no ability to move his body below his neck, yet he still felt tremendous pain. Kram's book shows how the Miley family coped, especially the youngest brother, Jimmy whose sense of devotion led him to honor his brother's final request to visit Dr. Kevorkian.

Like Any Normal Day is a quick read about the everyman in anytown USA with such a long lasting impact making readers think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K.Depp on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was captivated by the Miley Family from beginning to end. Buddy Miley was a remarkably courageous man. But even more so are his family members and friends for sharing this story with us. Thank you to Mark Kram for telling it so beautifully.
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