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Define "Normal

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,655 Ratings  ·  497 Reviews
"Reading group guide inside"--P. [4] of cover.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 7th 2003 by Turtleback Books (first published April 1st 2000)
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Valleri The genre for this book is realistic young adult. It's a really good read.
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I was in the mood for something teenage and angsty, and this fit the bill. The story itself is more morality play than a realistic plot, but the characters are relatable and deep and introspective. They have dark secrets and insecurities and ways of rebelling that don't involve sex/drugs/cutting or whatever is the hot button issue of the year. There are some cool twists along the way.

Tangent. Note to authors of young adult novels. Slang. The entire point of slang is that it marks one as an insi
Devilyn (Emily)
When 14-year-old Antonia Dillion walks into her first peer counselling session to find out the girl she is surpossed to be helping is Jasmine "Jazz" Luther. She wants to quit straight away.

Jazz is a 'punker, a druggie, a gang hanger', she's beyond help.

But is she?

Antonia is a straight A student, participating in the programme to earn merits for when she is applying for college. Jazz is just there because she has to make up 'fifteen hours' a week.

As each session happens something about each girl
Nov 07, 2010 Scarlet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like inspirational reads.
Shelves: library, review
Spoiler-Free Review
I remember reading this in 7th grade for the book club, then discussing it at our monthly "Book-lovers Lunchtime (Ah, memories ^^). The details of this book have gone a bit fuzzy since I'm now in 10th grade, but the main thing that stuck with me about this book was how much it made you really think about stereotypes. People aren't just black and white, and neither is life. Just because someone dresses a certain way or likes certain things that you dont doesnt mean you should s
Amelia Calhoun
Feb 06, 2014 Amelia Calhoun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Antonia signs up to be a student guidance counselor, the last person she thinks she'd be paired with would be Jasmine, a punk with a pierced eyebrow and black lipstick. But when they each find out about their home lives, they each sympathize for the other and become Really good friends.

Antonia Dillon is what seems to be a straight-A student with a somewhat perfect life in the face of it. But in reality, her home life is a mess; two little brothers, a more than depressed mother, and a half
Define 'Normal'* is a novel by Julie Anne Peters, who I normally like. But I have to say, I was really disappointed in this one; of the three novels and one short story collection of hers that I've read, this is easily the worst thing she's put her name on. It's her first YA novel after a decade of middle-grade, and it really shows. Everything feels very juvenile, Antonia often reads quite a bit younger than fourteen, and there was a simplicity to it that didn't feel appropriate. For the life of ...more
I liked the situation in this book with the main character who has to take care of her mother and younger brothers while also trying to stay on top of things at school. At her school, there's a "counseling program," and she winds up counseling a "punky" girl who is the complete opposite of her. The early chapters are funny as Jazz, the punker, takes over the counseling session that Antonio, the geek, is supposed to lead.
The book becomes a little more serious as the two girls start to get to know
May 20, 2013 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first, I was reluctant.
As anyone would probably be, looking at the cover (because despite better intentions, I still automatically judge a book by the cover), seeing as it appeared to be one of those classic, mediocre books about two girls from "different social groups become friends against all odds". And I wanted none of that. And I got none of it.
I also expected this book to be one about a forced, unrealistically happy teenagers who live a perfect life with their above-average scores and o
Nov 23, 2014 Payal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely book about friendship and about -- surprise! -- being "normal", whatever that might be. Antonia is teenage schoolgirl forced to take on adult responsibilities. Her mother is clinically depressed and pretty much out of it; she has two young brothers, one of whom is a toddler; and she ends up cooking, cleaning and playing mother, in addition to keeping up with her schoolwork. Then she meets Jazz Luther and an unlikely friendship develops.

There were a few times when this book remin
Mar 06, 2012 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a girl named Antonia who is in a program to help troubled teens with their problems. But when Antonia finds out that her partner is Jazz Luther, one of the most rebellious and obnoxious girls in the school, Antonia wants to quit the program. The person in charge of the program doesn't let her because he thinks it will be "good for the both of them". Throughout the book, both Jazz and Antonia learn that it's not just Jazz who needs a friend.

I loved this book. It wasn't as thril
May 11, 2008 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this helps fill a niche, for 10-12-year-olds who are reluctant readers or think they're too edgy for The Melendy Family, but really aren't ready for The Catcher in the Rye.

Most teenagers would probably find it too simplistic. It's well-written, but read to me sort of like a high-school play written by a high-schooler. The main storyline is interesting and challenging, but NOTHING else is--everything outside that situation is pretty easy for the characters.

The realism of the slang is high
Mekenzie Banasik
Define “normal” by Julie Anne Peters is a book with many secrets. Antonia and Jazz are two girls that don't really know anything about each other. Jazz is more of a goth not very good in school and Antonia is more responsible and a really good student. Mostly they just talk and hang out at Oberon Middle School in the early 2000’s. They are stuck together because of Jazz having to have hours of counseling. Antonia and Jazz realizes that the other is very different than they thought. These two ver ...more
Oct 28, 2015 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
By looking at this book's cover, would you ever expect it to discuss mental health, stereotypes and self-acceptance? Oh yes, expectations are also something this book takes into consideration.

Extremely clever books disguised as light young-adult fiction. This is only the second novel I read by Julie Anne Peters, but this seems to be her thing. It's like a magical power, writing about heavy topics as if they were made of cotton. You can feel its texture, its slight resistance as you try to pull t
Abby Castillo
Dec 08, 2015 Abby Castillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book so much. In the end Antonia's mom ended up getting a lot better than she was before. She was even able to go to one of Jazz's piano recitals where there was a lot of people. Also, I thought something was weird during Jazz and Antonia's peer counseling session because Jazz would always talk to Antonia about her problems and try to help her instead of the other way around. As it turns out Jazz was actually Antonia's peer counselor the whole time! I was kind of surprised but I als ...more
Jan 29, 2014 Lydieguercin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was pretty cool.. I thought the ending was to happy though....
Joanne♥~Bookworm Extraordinaire
This was a good book.

It deals with two girls who are the complete opposite of each other, counseling each other through their problems. Both girls have family troubles and issues. In school they are paired up in a peer counseling program. Antonia is the counselor who is told to that she needs to help Jazz. At first there is friction between the two girls but over their sessions they become friends and open with each other about their problems. The main messages for this book is "Don't judge a b
“She was perfectly normal.”
“What do you mean?”
I turned around again. “What do you mean, what do I mean?”
I clucked my tongue in disgust. “You know, normal. Happy, healthy. Someone with friends and family. Shelley had all kinds of friends. She was popular.”
“So if you're not popular, you're not normal?”
“I didn't say that.” Did I?

Right, define “normal.” What's the standard for “normal?” If I'd compare myself to this quote I'd hardly qualify. So, how is it....I think everyone needs his/he
Other than the horribly obnoxious personality the slang "Bode" seems to radiate, this was actually a pretty decent story about a well do girl and a goth and friendship.

Seems weird so I will explain a little. The goth girl is from a rich 'pish posh' type of family and 'don't give her enough attention'. While the well do girl is from a low income family with a mother and two brothers. While at first you might mistake the main character for the mother (not really considering its obvious she is in
Coquille Fleur
Feb 04, 2012 Coquille Fleur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Julie Anne Peters surprised me with this story. I wasn't sure if I would like this when I first picked it up, half expecting it to be a little trite, or at least predictable. Luckily, it went against all my preconceived notions and ended up reeling me right in. The tables turn in a delightful way that keeps the story real. The writing is tight, fun, and Peters even throws in some age-appropriate cussing that brings the characters to life without going overboard. I would put this in the young YA/ ...more
Rachel Smith
Oct 16, 2014 Rachel Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoed this book. At first it seemed a little boring but then it got better and and better and I could not put the book down. I read it twice because the first time I missed some of it and was confused and the second time I understood eveything I was reading. I would totally recomend this book to anyone who likes teen drama. This book is in my instrest zone, I don't like very many books. Many book just don't catch my attention and then some do. This book is about to teens who are peer c ...more
Ugh! I wouldn't have finished this if not for the YALSA Hub challenge. It won a nod for top audio book and I'll agree that the narrator does a good job, but the story made me want to vomit a bit. So cookie cutter with a cookie cutter ending. So, it was fine, but not great. Maybe if I was in a different space, I would have enjoyed it, but I feel that, like others have said, it felt more like a morality play than anything.
I was expecting something else and was kind of pleasantly surprised about the way the author wrote in some cool things. I like this one, I would have swallowed it whole as a kid. It's more like the middle school and high school that I remember than some other YA books that I've read.

Beth B
May 19, 2012 Beth B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
"This thoughtful, wry story is about two girls--a "punk" and a "priss"--who find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program and discover that they have some surprising things in common."

I brought 2 copies of this book home from the library so my 13 year old niece and I could read it for our "book club." She looked at the book and told me she wasn't interested; 7 chapters later she asked when I was going to get started! I enjoyed the book, too. A great story of how things aren't al
Sarah Crawford
Feb 10, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book by Julie Anne Peters and is without doubt one of the best young-adult novels that I have ever read. The story concerns two girls; Jazz Luther and Antonia Dillon. Jazz is, in appearance, a punk/goth mix wearing black lipstick, wild hairstyles and color and with an attitude. Antonia, on the other hand, is an almost "perfect" girl, getting excellent grades, doing everything expected of her and a teacher's favorite at her school.

The two girls are teamed in a Peer Counseling session, b
Jan 08, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Objective Summary)The main characters where Antonia and Jazz. Jazz was a punk girl who always wore either black clothes or she wore any dark colors, but a secret no one knew was that she loved to play the piano and that she was filthy rich. Un like Antonia Jazz was not the best in any of her classes. Antonia on the other hand was a girl who wore bright colors and always had a sweater on and she always tucked it into her skirt. Antonia was also a girl who always did great in all her classes. Th ...more
Rachel Jones
Define "Normal" by Julie Ann Peters is a book about two 14 year old girls, Jazz and Antonia, overcoming their problems in life. Antonia Dillion lives a tough life at home, always having to clean the house and look after her brothers since her mother is mentally ill. Meanwhile, Jazz is getting into fights with her mother and living the rich life, but doesn't necessarily fit her mother's "criteria" of a wealthy person. Antonia doesn't want anyone to know of her difficulties so she never speaks of ...more
Emma Wagner
Dec 22, 2015 Emma Wagner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robin Finn
Oct 31, 2015 Robin Finn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This isn't the type of book I would normally read, but a) I'd like to broaden my knowledge of YA lit and b) all the fantasy books are always checked out on Overdrive audio. I had mostly negative feelings about Luna due to its treatment of trans issues, but I otherwise hear good things about this author, and thought I'd give another book a try.

I wasn't particularly impressed. The story itself was engaging enough, but the writing was often crigeworthy (no thanks to the slang) and it came across as
Amber Khan
Oct 18, 2014 Amber Khan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Define normal is a great book, it is well written, and has a great plot. But the book is just to predictable. It's like your normal realistic fiction book or movie, you can just assume what's goin to happen because there are many books or movies like it. Right when Jazz and Tone started peer counselling, I automatically knew they would end up good friends at the end, it's like any other book two people hate eachother, they will end up friends. Next is it is like any other book, Jazz the punk go ...more
"This thoughtful, wry story is about two girls--a "punk" and a "priss"--who find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program and discover that they have some surprising things in common."

That pretty much sums it up. Add a mother with major mental health issues and a needy brother from one family and overbearing (from the girls' point of view) parents for the other and it's a book with all the pieces that make current publishers and reviewers joyous.

LIBRARIAN REVIEW: Another book th
Julie Decker
Antonia's got everyone thinking her life is perfect. She's pretty together at school, on top of her game, good grades, and nobody knows her mother is mentally ill and not taking care of her family at all. So she's sure her ruse is very much intact when she's asked to participate in peer counseling and she gets matched with Jasmine--or Jazz as she likes to be called--and the girl is a weird sulky punk who doesn't seem to want to be there. But over time, they start to learn more about each other, ...more
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Julie Anne Peters was born in Jamestown, New York. When she was five, her family moved to the Denver suburbs in Colorado. Her parents divorced when she was in high school. She has three siblings: a brother, John, and two younger sisters, Jeanne and Susan.

Her books for young adults include Define "Normal" (2000), Keeping You a Secret (2003), Luna (2004), Far from Xanadu (2005), Between Mom and Jo (
More about Julie Anne Peters...

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“My mother read that parents should spend quality time with their children. One way is to sign up for organized activities together. This month we're taking meditation to free the mind. Last month it was Rolfing. Have you ever Rolfed, Tone?"

"Only after the school's shepherd's pie," I said.”
“She was perfectly normal.”
“What do you mean?”
I turned around again. “What do you mean, what do I mean?”
I clucked my tongue in disgust. “You know, normal. Happy, healthy. Someone with friends and family. Shelley had all kinds of friends. She was popular.”
“So if you're not popular, you're not normal?”
“I didn't say that.” Did I?”
More quotes…