Monday, May 9, 2011

Review:Ten Miles Past Normal

Title: Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Published: March 2011 by Atheneum
Source: Library

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.

This is the fist book by Ms. O'Roark Dowell that I read and I enjoy it.  This is a charming coming of age story.  I fell in love with Janie from the begining because of herlaugh-out-loud sense of humor.  She came across at first as a 'complainer', but then she is only 14 (those of you that have a teenager or are a teenager yourself know how big problems are [or seem to be].)  She grew out of it by the end of a novel or at least came to an acceptance of her life and who she is. 
It was nice to read a YA novel that, for a change, doesn't involve a love triangle and an overly serious topic.  The characters had distinct personalities, flaws, strenghts, talents and were as well develped as a 211 pages allowed.  I loved Monster and I wished there was more of him in the story.  There was also an unexpected historical component to the plot, in the form of a school project about great women, that was very interesting.
An enoyable short read.  The cover represents Janie perfectly :)

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