cover image Ten Miles Past Normal

Ten Miles Past Normal

Frances O'Roark Dowell. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4169-9585-2

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%E2%80%93up. (Mar.)