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Author honored by Kern Literacy Council releases memoir

From an untethered childhood, to a stay in Lerdo, to entrepreneurship and homelessness, author Norman Farrell Brown hopes his story can inspire others to believe they can overcome any obstacle.
Norman Farrell Brown
Posted at 4:33 PM, Dec 09, 2022

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Norman Farrell Brown says by the age of 16, he had lived in 24 houses with a rotating door of father figures.

“Seven houses in New Mexico in one year, and two schools; that was (just) third grade,” Brown said.

Brown had roamed the halls of 19 schools, falling through the cracks in each classroom.

“I never even read anything,” he said. “I don't remember anything. It was such a blur at that point.”

The only stability in his younger years and into adulthood was the inconsistency of a stable home life.

“I'm homeless, I run in the streets, I got upside down really bad,” he said.

After a stay in Lerdo Jail, Brown turned the page by starting a limousine business. While it took off, he kept his inability to read a secret from everyone, including his secretary.

Following another series of unfortunate events, he realized he needed to step up and get his life together after partying with the wrong crowd.

“I was sick and tired of being around that toxic energy,” Brown said.

Brown's new chapter started with learning to read. He'd been working at a body shop and would spend time at the Kern Literacy Council, which was just down the road.

“So I tested at a second grade (reading level),” said Brown.

The Literacy Council was where Brown met his tutor, Ed Western. He not only discovered the joy of reading, but came to appreciate relationships that fostered stability and support.

“He (Ed) was real stern, Air Force man,” he said. “And at first I thought this is going to be grueling with this guy. But I showed up every day on time. And we eventually started cracking jokes.”

The KLC honored Brown at their 50th anniversary banquet. It was there the idea for a memoir began, and after countless Zoom meetings and conversations, details from his life filled the pages of his first book.

“So it was a grueling, grueling process, to say the least,” Brown said. “Because I had some stuff tucked in there that I didn't realize I had tucked in there. And then I'm thinking back, well, this is, this is why it was I had substance problems, trying to bury this stuff.”

Brown credits role models from the Kern Literacy Council for setting him on a new path. He is now hoping to be an inspiration for others by speaking to students about overcoming obstacles in life.

You can purchase Brown's book, “Still Moving On,” by visiting the Kern Literacy Council's website.