Monday, December 19, 2011

Ten Miles Past Normal by Francis O’Roark Dowell

ten milesJanie Gorman is a girl who desperately wants to be normal. The only real problem with that is that she’s not. That is, she’s not particularly abnormal. but her family lifestyle is a bit on the abnormal side of the spectrum. When Janie was younger, she went on a school field trip to a farm, and decided she wanted to live on a farm. Her parents actually loved this idea and decided it was high time they sell their suburban house and cars, pack everything up, and move out to the country. At first it was cool; everyone in 6th grade thought it was awesome that she had goats outside her bedroom window, but now, in 9th grade, Janie is known as “farm girl.” Her farm duty of milking the goats every morning (which more often than not results in animal poop on her shoes) does not help matters. On top of that, her mom runs a blog about her life on the farm. This, to put it simply, is not helping Janie achieve the normalcy she so desperately wants. Janie has yet to find her place in the world at her new high school. She eats by herself in the library every day instead of the cafeteria. All of her friends from middle school are in a different lunch, and she’s too shy to make new friends. Even her friendship with her pushy best friend Sarah is feeling rocky. At first Janie feels that it would be nice to go back to that old suburban life, but comes to realize that being “normal” isn’t always the coolest thing. She must know this somewhere inside of her. She certainly takes part in plenty of not so “normal” hi-jinks: she learns bass and joins Jam Band, she idolizes her best friend Sarah’s older sister (the infamous wild-child, high-school-senior Emma), shegets arrested while doing a school project on a local freedom school, and she kind of falls in “like” with a boy named Monster (yes, that is his real name). Janie begins to realize that coolness comes in many forms, and that being a wallflower isn't her style after all. "I'm the cute chick with the bass," she thinks. "Now that's a reputation I can live with." Review by Lizzy Healy

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