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.
Ten Miles Past Normalby Frances O'Roark Dowell
Perfectly voiced! Frances O'Roark Dowell nails it in her young adult novel Ten Miles Past Normal. Janie Gorman is an authentic character and hilarious to boot. By the end of page one, the reader is hooked--here is a girl with some pretty difficult social handicaps (For instance, goats don't produce sweet smells.) who is bravely trying enter the high school social scene and achieve some kind of normal. Good luck with that! The plot is light and really just a framework for first-rate writing, dialogue, and characters; I truly loved them all--Janie, Monster, Sarah, Verbena, and even Loretta Lynn the goat. Anyone, young adult or adult, who has gone to high school, will find a kindred spirit in Janie Gorman and her "problems". Ten Miles Past Normal is an abundantly refreshing entry into the young adult demographic. Read it and pass it on!
Violence/Gore: Report of violence years ago during civil rights movement.
Sex/Nudity: A character kisses another character; reference to period; reference to boys liking mammary glands; characters like/have "crushes" on other characters.
Mature Subject Matter:
High School Social Issues
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Some characters are referred to as "stoners". There is a passing comment referring to "joints". A high school student says he has a beer in his backpack and offers it to another student (who declines).
Reviewed By Cindy