It’s the winter of 1965 in Toronto, and Norman, the youngest of three, feels he doesn’t quite fit in with his older brothers. His parents call him “Normy,” which his brothers — who seem to do all they can to make his life miserable — change to “Wormy.”
Things look up a bit when Norman wins a contest with a prize of $1,000. Since money is tight, his parents hope he will contribute his winnings to the purchase of a new roof, a new car, or possibly put the money toward his college fund — but they leave the decision up to him. Instead, he suggests a family vacation to Miami Beach. His parents slowly come around to the idea, and his brothers are delighted.
The family has never traveled before and are elated to stay at the fanciest hotel on the beach. Upon arriving, the three brothers meet three sisters from New Jersey and the fun begins. The two older brothers are competitive with the two older sisters, while Norman and the youngest sister, Amy, join forces to stand up to their siblings.
The first night’s entertainment is a comedian named Mort Ziff, an old-timer who looks like he has seen better days. When Norman and Amy find out Mort is about to lose his job, they decide to make a project of keeping him employed. Their kindness, concern, and ingenuity send the message to readers that even young people can make a difference.
This entertaining book contains one heavy-handed moment, when the cab driver who takes the family from the hotel to the airport explains the problem of discrimination against minority entertainers. While it’s a worthy message, it seems thrown in as an afterthought.
Overall, this is a humorous and easy read. Fagan has a knack for perfectly capturing the dialogue of this age group.