Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Atheneum (March 22, 2011)
Janie Gorman wants to be normal. The problem with that: she’s not. She’s smart and creative and a little bit funky. She’s also an unwilling player in her parents’ modern-hippy, let’s-live-on-a-goat-farm experiment (regretfully, instigated by a younger, much more enthusiastic Janie). This, to put it simply, is not helping Janie reach that “normal target.” She has to milk goats every day…and endure her mother’s pseudo celebrity in the homemade-life, crunchy mom blogosphere. Goodbye the days of frozen lasagna and suburban living, hello crazy long bus ride to high school and total isolation--and hovering embarrassments of all kinds. The fresh baked bread is good…the threat of homemade jeans, not so much. It would be nice to go back to that old suburban life…or some grown up, high school version of it, complete with nice, normal boyfriends who wear crew neck sweaters and like social studies. So, what’s wrong with normal? Well, kind of everything. She knows that, of course, why else would she learn bass and join Jam Band, how else would she know to idolize infamous wild-child and high school senior Emma (her best friend Sarah’s older sister), why else would she get arrested while doing a school project on a local freedom school (jail was not part of the assignment). And, why else would she kind of be falling in "like" with a boy named Monster—yes, that is his real name. Janie was going for normal, but she missed her mark by about ten miles…and we mean that as a compliment. Frances O’Roark Dowell’s fierce humor and keen eye make her YA debut literary and wise. In the spirit of John Green and E. Lockhart, Dowell’s relatable, quirky characters and clever, fluid writing prove that growing up gets complicated…and normal is WAY overrated.MY THOUGHTS
As I began reading Ten Miles Past Normal I had no pre-conceived ideas or expectations, but I realized instantly that what I had before me was a quirky story with a protagonist that I could not help but adore.
This story is centered on Janie Gorman, a once city-gone farm girl extraordinaire that wants to be considered normal and not the girl with hay in her hair and goat pooh on her shoe. Can you say social suicide? Janie and her friend Sarah had grand plans for when they began High School but within her first few days Janie's dreams came to a screeching halt when her home life made her the "odd" man out at school. At first Janie tries to fit in but when she has deemed her quest as useless she realizes that embracing that what makes her different is her ticket to finding her niche.
It was refreshing to read a YA novel that introduced loving and caring parents instead of the usual MIA parents in teen reads. Their relationship with Janie was honest and loving and it gave the story it's roots that anchored Janie. I also admired Janie's initial fear and how she used that to propell her forward. If your looking for a story that advocates embracing who you are and where you come from, then this is something you would enjoy.
If you interested in this great read just drop a line in the comments section and tell me why you would like to read Ten Miles Past Normal and I will select a winner on April 24th (sunday) 2011 midnight PST. Good Luck