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.
The first thing you will notice about 10 Miles Past Normal (if you see it in real life) is that it is short! This allowed the book to be a nice afternoon read.
I have seen mixed reviews about this newest book from Frances O’Roark Dowell, but I enjoyed myself for the most part. Janie was a character that was easy to like – she didn’t fit in at school, which is something most all people can relate to. As the book progresses we meet new characters and they are all rather charming in one way or another.
The main plot of the book (which takes a little while to get into) has more depth than I would have expected because of the length of the book. Honestly my least favorite part of this book is how much the book’s summary gives away – it is only 256 pages and a lot of the events are revealed in the summary for no real reason (I know they are trying to draw you in as a reader but I don’t think listing most things that happen is totally necessary).
I didn’t realize until after finishing 10 Miles Past Normal that Frances O’Roark Dowell has published many books – ten total, if I’m counting correctly. I’m wondering if she has any longer books that are more than just a charming contemporary, so hopefully in the future I’ll be able to read one of her other published works.