cover image Halfway Normal

Halfway Normal

Barbara Dee. Aladdin, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7851-9

Dee (Star-Crossed) traces the trials of a pediatric cancer patient who returns to middle school after a two-year absence. Norah Levy, a seventh grader, has recently completed treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and is allowed to resume her “normal” life. Norah excelled with her tutor and fellow cancer survivor, Ayesha, so she’s invited to take eighth grade math and science. New student Griffin seems interested in Norah; she’d like for him to notice her Greek mythology knowledge or drawing talents, and not as “Cancer Girl.” But Norah’s parents are nervous about her overdoing it, so they create rules meant to help her rest and continue progressing—rules that inhibit her social life. Meanwhile, Norah’s seventh-grade friends have mixed (and occasionally negative) reactions to her return to their suburban New York City school. Griffin is a bit too perceptive, Norah’s best friend Harper unfailingly patient, and Norah herself jarringly hypercritical, even if her resentments are understandable. Still, Dee realistically explores the varied emotions of maturing middle-school students, as well as the way Norah feels singled out and patronized by classmates and adults alike. Ages 9–13. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Sept.)