Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: Ten Miles Past Normal

Book: Ten Miles Past Normal
Frances O'Roark Dowell
Publisher: Atheneum
Release Date: 3/22/11
Pages: 256
Source: ARC
Date Read: 2/21/11


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.

Yani's Analysis:
All Janie wants is to be a normal teenager. It is a couple of days into freshman year and she is already known  as the girl that walked around with hay in her hair. Why did her 10 year old self ever think that living on a farm was a good idea?Ten Miles part normal is a book about growing up and fitting in. While other books I have read to live in a fantasy, this book was like returning to my past, minus the farm. I was an insecure freshman once, too.

Janie loves the farm, but lets other's opinion dictate how she feels. Whats funny is she wants to be normal, but her role model is one of those rebellious against the grain types. I don't think Janie realizes she doesn't want to be normal, she wants to be noticed.

A cute story about growing up and learning to be yourself, Janie takes my back to my high school years. This isn't my usual type of book... a little too young and way to country for a twenty-something city girl like me... but I think people will appreciate this book and enjoy reading Janie's journey.

Plot: 3/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Uniqueness: 4/5
Characters: 3/5

Similar Titles:

Other Memorable Quotes:
"...wondering why some people could totally be themselves and still be accepted by everyone, while other people- people who did everything in the world to fit in - were shunned like the runts of the litter."

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