Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review: Ten Miles Past Normal, by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Author: Frances O'Roark Dowell
Release Date: March 2011
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (An imprint if Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division)
3.5 Stars - It was a good story

Synopsis: 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. 

This book was sent to me from Jennifer at Pretty Fab PR, and I would like to thank her generously for sending me my first book to review! 
This was a cute, fast, funny, inspirational read.  I loved the the transformation of Janie from the beginning to the end of the book.  It is a smart look into the life of a freshman girl trying to find her place in the fragile social realities of high school.  She starts out a timid mouse, and blossoms into a strong girl with a relentless pursuit of fairness in the world.  She wants to change the world, she wants to make a difference.  Her anecdotes of her goat Loretta Lynn made me laugh out load.  I loved the casual naming of the goats after country music stars, and the baseball reference in Ty Cobb.  If there had been a cow named Joe Montana, it would have been perfect!  My jaw dropped when she was arrested! Not what I was expecting.  I loved her relationship with her mother.  She learned to accept her in the end, and having been a teenager once, I hope that is what all teenage girls are able to do as the get older. 
Although this book is not within my normal genre lately, I still liked this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good heartwarming book to read and laugh with. 

photo and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads 


  1. My 5th grade daughter and I loved this book too! I especially am in love with the characters, especially Janie and Monster. I think that while it is a YA book, it is appropriate for 6th grade and up as the story line is G rated.

    This is my first time reading this author but I want more!

    PragmaticMom of CoffeeShopBloggers

  2. My 5th grade daughter put Ten Miles Past Normal on her list of favorite Stand Alone books here:

    PragmaticMom of CoffeeShopBloggers