Release Date: March 22, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Received From: Publisher
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 Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell was a book after my own heart. It really was. It’s filled with quirky characters and tidbits about Farm Life, you can’t help but be enchanted. Janie is a little lost. She convinced her parents to move to the country and start a goat farm when she was a kid, but now she’s a freshman in high school, and coming to school with goat poop on you shoe is sure to draw the wrong kind of attention. Now she just wants to be normal. Is that too much to ask for?
This was a fun and original contemporary. I had a lot of fun with it I didn’t really relate to Janie well, because I think living of a farm would be awesome, but that’s just me! I did relate to the fact that she lived in the boonies, because I have always lived in the boonies! I’m pretty sure the book takes place in North Carolina (correct me if I’m wrong!) so it had a nice Southern charm also.
My favorite part about Ten Miles Past Normal was Monster–yes that really is his name! Every time he was in a scene it lit up the book. He was funny, charming, and a good ol’ Southern boy. If anything read the book for him! He was a fantastic character!
Frances O’Roark Dowell has also done something unique with this book, she has taking a seemingly fluffy YA and interspersed it with stories and facts about the civil rights movement. Wonderful, heartwarming stories that just make the book all the more interesting!