In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea’s family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in northern Alberta. But unlike most commune dwellers of the time, the Persons weren’t trying to build a new society—they wanted to escape civilization altogether. Led by Cea’s grandfather Dick, they lived in a canvas Teepee, grew pot, and hunted and gathered to survive.
Living out her grandparents’ dream with her teenage mother, Michelle, young Cea knew little of the world beyond her forest. She spent her summers playing nude in the meadow and her winters snowshoeing behind the grandfather she idolized. Despite fierce storms, food shortages and the occasional drug-and-sex-infused party for visitors, it was a happy existence. For Michelle, however, there was one crucial element missing: a man. When Cea was five, Michelle took her on the road with a new boyfriend. As the trio set upon a series of ill-fated adventures, Cea began to question both her highly unusual world and the hedonistic woman at the centre of it—questions that eventually evolved into an all-consuming search for a more normal life. Finally, in her early teens, Cea realized she would have to make a choice as drastic as the one her grandparents once had made in order to get the life she craved.
From nature child to international model by the age of thirteen, Cea’s astonishing saga is one of long-held family secrets and extreme family dysfunction, all in an incredibly unusual setting. It is also the story of one girl’s deep-seated desire for normality—a desire that enabled her to risk everything, overcome adversity and achieve her dreams.
Just over a year ago, my husband and I moved down to the Kootenay’s. I had a friend suggest the North of Normal memoir written by Cea Sunrise Person as they thought it was a compelling, yet shocking read + somewhat fitting as lots of the childhood stories she referenced were from small Kootenay towns were I was looking to move.
Little did I know, I was about to jump into a book that would become a page turner. I was intrigued (and stunned most of the time), how a child born to hippie parents in the 60s would transpire. The stories that Cea shares pulls at all of your emotions.
You can go from disbelief, to pain, to laughter all within a few pages. The book shares the exposure of unique family dynamics, unconventional living situations, and welcoming forgiveness through it all.
What I liked the most is you get to follow along with Cea – at times, you can try and put yourself in her shoes which really heightens the experience during your read. It is wonderful to see that she is thriving now and that she is now living the normal life that she has longed for.
This is a story of survival and letting go + definitely worth a read!