Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Ten Miles Past NormalFrom Goodreads:
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.
To be quite honest, I did not like this book at the beginning. Janie got on my nerves because all she did was complain. Complained about her home, her parents, her lack of friends, her lack of popularity, the fact that she was teased at school; the list goes on. After a while, you wondered if there was anything more to Janie than a complaint box of teenage angst. However, about half way through the book, she starts to talk to a girl while hiding out in the library at lunch. A strange girl herself, but quite honestly more interesting than Janie. This did start to get Janie out of her comfort zone a bit and later while trying to be supportive of her best friends newest scheme, she finds herself willing to try something new. Now, this is where I started to become interested again in the story.

She starts to meet new people and also starts to learn more about herself. Janie grows from this point on and even learns quite a bit about the important history of the small town she is a part. History that is almost forgotten and she decides that she won't allow it to be forgotten. This is the book I wanted to read. This is the story I was finally glad to get! I really enjoyed the secondary characters as well. I enjoyed the growth of Janie into a person I would have loved to have been friends with in HS or even in life.

I give this book 3 stars. It would have been much higher if the beginning was shortened quite a bit. However, the second half of the book just rocked. Almost literally. ;) This book will be published on March 22, 2011.

I received this ebook from the publisher and no compensation for my review was given.


  1. I know all the complaining would have become taxing for me too, Melissa. Though it is kind of cool that Janie doesn't seem so cookie cutter but yeah, she probably would have gotten on my nerves too. Glad the book took a turn for the better.

    I think I will likely skip this one now that I've read your review. The cover is super fun, and I was curious about it, but I don't want to meet someone you'd be BFs with because I'm your ONLY BF! ;P

  2. True... but she'd be just a f not a bf. ;)

  3. The story I'm curious about is how Janie convinced her family to live in a goat farm. That's a huge change in circumstances. Reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - her nonfiction book about living off the land for one year.

  4. Hm I do not know, I mean if she got on your nerves then I am sure she would get on my nerves..would I last until that second rocking half..that is the question

  5. So glad the book turned around for you. :) great review.

  6. Great review Mel!

    doesnt look like something I'd like thoguh =/

  7. I am glad the book turned around but the complaining is part of the reason I stay away from YA (and some adult books) LOL :)

  8. @Stephanie...That could have been the inspiration, but I think it really bears little resemblance to that book. Hm... good thought though!

    @Blodeuedd... I do understand.

    @Melissa... I am too. I really did like the second half!

    @Larissa... Thanks.

    @Felicia... LOL I do get that! :D

  9. I really enjoyed this book. I do know what you mean about Janie being annoying. I got through it b/c it seemed just like a typical 14 year old. She felt very real. I liked reading about her growing up.

  10. @Alison... heh... don't know if I would have gotten through all the whining. ;) However, I do see what you mean. I really did like her in the second half tho! :)

  11. I have seen this book around and have been wanting to pick it up. I don't really mind if books starts off slow but it does bug me a little. Nice review!


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