The Story of a Wildly Unconventional Nuclear Family That Grows Richer With Each New Member

For most of her life, Chrysta Bilton was part of a small, if dysfunctional, family. Her larger-than-life gay mother, Debra, had yearned for parenthood. But in the 1980s, single lesbians had few options. Until one day, when—while getting her hair done in a Beverly Hills salon—Debra met the man who would become Chrysta’s dad. Beautiful, athletic, and from a well-to-do family, Jeffrey Harrison appeared to be Debra’s ideal sperm donor. 

What Debra could not have known was that there was more to Jeffrey than he let on. A Playgirl centerfold hippie who struggled with drugs and eventual homelessness, Jeffrey would make only occasional appearances at the family home, which grew to include a baby sister for Chrysta. While Debra did not lean on Jeffrey to raise her daughters, she did come to depend on other women, alcohol, and the boom-and-bust economy of ’80s and ’90s California to keep her family afloat.
It wasn’t until Chrysta and her sister were young adults that they discovered just how many secrets their parents had carefully kept from them, and each other, including that Jeffrey had made his primary living for almost a decade as a donor to the largest sperm bank in the world. Eventually, they would meet nearly forty siblings—with a new brother or sister appearing every few months—each with their own questions about themselves, their past, and the father they all shared. 

Normal Family is the story of embracing family in whatever form we find it.

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“I thought my family was complicated until I read Chrysta Bilton’s wonderful memoir about the unique—eccentric, wild, expansive—collection of irresistible characters in her life. Bilton has a big heart, gentle wisdom, keen eye and lovely wit. She’s a gifted writer with an astonishing story to tell.” —David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy
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