Book review of Supernormal: Childhood adversity and the untold story of resilience by Meg Jay, 2018.

This book took my understanding of “adversity” and tipped it on its head. I love when books do that.

Meg Jay is a Clinical Psychologist practicing in Virginia, USA. Her beautifully written book takes the form of a series of short stories, or case histories, if you will. Stories of people who have experienced some form of adversity during childhood, such as violence or drug use in the home or the loss of a parent. Meg details what they did to cope with those things, coping methods which to grown-up eyes can look “unhelpful” but which speak to the very human drive to survive.

My job puts me in the very privileged position of hearing stories of adversity from everyday, ordinary looking people. I’d gotten used to – too used to – seeing these adversity stories as “risk factors” that leave people vulnerable for a range of mental health issues and a bunch of other stuff.

This book presented an alternative: That right alongside adversity is resilience. That for every person who sits in my office, yes, there is adversity. But there is also strength, courage and probably several other factors which means they have been able to survive, get through and continue to be.

Right alongside adversity, is resilience.

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