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Define "Normal"

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  7,725 ratings  ·  587 reviews
From National Book Award Finalist Julie Anne Peters
This thoughtful, wry story is about two girls--a "punk" and a "prep"--who find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program and discover that they have some surprising things in common. A new reading-group guide written by the author is included in the back of this paperback edition.
Paperback, 196 pages
Published May 7th 2003 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published April 1st 2000)
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Nana17 It's not LGBT, at all.
Had my own hopes up, but you can clearly see at the end of the book that the main girl starts to like one of the other's male…more
It's not LGBT, at all.
Had my own hopes up, but you can clearly see at the end of the book that the main girl starts to like one of the other's male friend.
It's a story of friendship.(less)
Valleri The genre for this book is realistic young adult. It's a really good read.

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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,725 ratings  ·  587 reviews

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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)
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Rajesh Bookrider
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
4/5 stars

Antonia (14 year old) is a "straight A" student, who signs up
a peer counseling program. her peer is a punker, druggie, gang hanger girl, Jazz (Jasmine Luther), or Antonia thinks she is.

Antonia seems normal girl where Jazz is exact opposite to her. When she sees Jazz is paired with her, she wants to quit the program. But Dr. Dileo (their counseling program head) forces her to keep continue doing it.

Even they are very much deferent from each other, there is something common between them.

Amelia Calhoun
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Abby Castillo
Nov 19, 2015 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
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 11, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was pretty cool.. I thought the ending was to happy though....
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At first I was skeptical about reading this book. that was before I had opened it and began to read it. Define Normal is a story about two completely different girls coming together to learn more and help each other out. They compare each others’ lives coming to realize everyone fights their own battles. Throughout the story you learn more and more about each of the girls.
I give this book a fairly good rating. I personally have never really enjoyed reading. I finished this book in a week and e
Maddison Wood
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a gay teen drama because I assumed that's all Julie Anne Peters wrote, so my bad for thinking that. It is not a gay teen drama, but it's still very good. I really enjoyed the simplicity of it. The plot reveals and misdirections were subtle and surprising. Both Jazz and Antonia had realistic yet very intense problems for 14-year-olds, and the narrative is obviously written to help young teenagers sort through their own family issues and identity issues without slapping you in t ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
- good take on american high school
- shows how people are not what u see
- it really shows how you don't judge a book by its cover
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
Oct 27, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Emma Wagner
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
“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
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
Rachel Smith
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Coquille Fleur
Feb 04, 2012 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
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Define Normal
I read the book Define Normal by Julie Anne Peters. A teenager named Antonia gets into a peer counseling program at school where she meets a glothy quiet and moody girl named Jazz. Antonia and Jazz see eachother every Wednesday for their peer counselling program they both start to connect with each other. They learn that they have lots of things in common. Whenever Antonia's life falls apart Jazz your peer counseling partner ended up helping her. I really love this book because it
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: middle school -high school age
I haven't read this book since the first time I read it, but it was in middle school and this book inspired me to want to read more. It was the first book I had ever read that I felt I could really relate to.

I recommend this for middle school and high school kids.

I remember finishing reading this and wishing that kids who picked on me and other kids would read this and realize that "normal" is not easy if at all possible to define.
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.
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, psychology
Fun to read, proves that there's something common that every girl desires in her heart.
In the desire to help each other unknowingly Antonia and Jazz discover a beautiful friendship that makes them learn to realize what's really valuable in life and helps Antonia deal with the problem of having a depressive mom while Jazz is able to be truly herself and carry out her dream of being a pianist.

this book was just really sweet and it made me happy. antonia and jazz were so pure and i loved the ending so much!! also idc if the lesbian vibes were barely hinted at, this is going on my lgbtq shelf
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.

Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I didn't thin I'd like it, but I actually found myself crying a bit. I know. Thank Jenny and Kate!
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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 (
“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…