Ten Miles Past Normal

Frances O'Roark Dowell, Author
Frances O'Roark Dowell. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4169-9585-2
Reviewed on: 05/09/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4169-9587-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4618-2557-9
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-1-4169-9586-9
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Making a confident move from middle-grade into YA, Dowell (Falling In) introduces readers to high school freshman Janie Gorman, a perky cool kid turned outcast. She encouraged her parents to move to a farm in North Carolina five years ago, but she now resents the change because her smelly farm chores, funky fashion sense, and her neo-hippie mother's blog keep her from fitting in ("[W]hen I suggested we'd all be happier on a farm raising goats and baking bread, well, I'd meant it, but I didn't expect to be taken seriously"). Her friendship with her pushy best friend Sarah is feeling rocky, and as Janie slowly makes inroads with Verbena, a Sharpie-tattooed fellow outsider, and a musician named Monster, who unlocks her previously unknown musical talent, she 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." Janie's narration is sarcastic, contemplative, and sweet, which keeps this offbeat portrait of a tender age light yet believable. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
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