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My Odd Upbringing
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

To call my upbringing odd would be the understatement of the century. My family made oddballs look normal. I grew up on what you might call a houseboat. I suppose it technically was both house and boat, since we lived aboard the contraption and it floated (usually). But it looked more like a floating shack than a houseboat. My father built the thing out of scraps that he gathered from the trash heaps of New York City construction sites. He called it “The Royal Palace” because it was his domain, the only place in the world that he could make as strange and interesting as the inside of his own head. It floated in the New York harbor, tied to a half-collapsed pier at the end of 12th Street.

When I was ten, my father got the idea of sailing The Royal Palace across the ocean to Europe. It was an absolutely insane idea, a plan certain to end in death. My mother refused to allow us on the journey. So we went to stay with my Aunt Anita, and off sailed my father for what we assumed would be his final adventure.

Several weeks later, he was on the front page of all the Sunday newspapers. “Mad Genius Crosses Atlantic in Homemade Boat,” one headline read. My father had survived, and was currently being celebrated as a hero in London, England.

The headline was right: my father was both a madman and a genius. Who else but a madman would attempt such a death-defying journey? Who else but a genius would manage to survive it? As for me, I’ve grown up to be about as ordinary a person as you can imagine. I have a husband, a dog, three lovely children, and a medium-sized house in a wonderfully boring neighborhood. I prefer my ordinary adulthood to my adventurous childhood. Still, I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything in the world.

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