TheEagerReaders Violet's Reviews > Ten Miles Past Normal

Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
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's review
Apr 11, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: chick-lit, contemporary, fiction, humorous, middle-grade, read-in-2011, young-adult

Frances O'Roark Dowell's Ten Miles Past Normal is a funny and insightful novel overflowing with charmingly quirky characters. When Janie was nine years old her class took a field trip to an organic farm. She loved it so much that she suggested to her parents that their whole family would be happier living on a farm, raising goats, and baking fresh bread. Janie had no idea that the concept would appeal to her parents so much, and she could never have predicted that five years later that perfect-sounding farm life would leave her feeling completely ostracized during her freshman year of high school. Part of her is desperate to fit in and feel like a normal girl, but perhaps life truly is better at ten miles past normal ...

What I Liked:
- This book had me laughing aloud from start to finish. Janie is a very funny narrator with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a wry wit.
- I loved that civil rights played such an important role in this novel. The teens admire and are inspired by courageous individuals who worked toward equality and justice when that was an unpopular and dangerous choice.
- This is a book in which the teenage girls are more excited about changing the world than chasing after the hottest boy in school. Of course, there is a bit of boy-chasing too, but that plays out in a hilariously satisfying way.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the mommy-blogger angle of the story. Since moving to the country, Janie's mother has taken up blogging to document her family's farm-life adventures. In fact, she has become a bit of a local celebrity because of her blog, and I liked hearing about that whole experience from Janie's perspective.
- I enjoyed the quirky collection of characters, from Monster to Emma to Mr. Pritchard. We should all be lucky enough to encounter memorably awesome people like that in our lives. There are also characters like Jeremy Fitch, who bear a striking resemblance to people most of us probably knew (or still know) in high school. I was thrilled that Janie has the good sense to recognize the reality that isn't always obvious when you are distracted by a handsome face and flirtatious banter.
- Janie has loving parents and they play a vital role in the story, so that sets Ten Miles Past Normal apart from the bulk of YA novels in which parents are absent/evil/negligent.
- I loved seeing Janie mature as she realizes that being normal is overrated and starts embracing life at ten miles past normal.

What I Wished:
- I wanted this book to be longer. Honestly, the author chose the perfect time and place for the story to end. I just enjoyed the characters so much that I wanted the story to go on for another hundred pages or so.

Ten Miles Past Normal is a sweet coming-of-age tale with a funny, intelligent narrator. Fans of Deb Caletti's Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl or Adriana Trigani's Viola in Reel Life will want to pick up Ten Miles Past Normal. It is also a very clean read, so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to fans of middle-grade novels like Lisa Schroeder's It's Raining Cupcakes. I look forward to reading more of Frances O'Roark Dowell's books.
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