Leslie's Review: Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

tenmilespastnormal ARC: 211 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Release Date: March 22, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Amazon)
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.

Leslie's Review:
Ten Miles Past Normal was a quick, humorous, easy read that kept my attention and a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the narration, the humor and the characters of this book so much that I wish it were longer just so I don't have to leave the characters yet.

Even though it's a short book at only 211 pages the story wasn't rushed. The story was paced well and the plot filled with funny moments. It is narrated in first-person by Janie, a high school freshman who lives in a farm with her modern day hippy parents. She was the same age as me so I easily related to her. Her voice was sarcastic and full of humor and I laughed so many times at the crazy situations she got herself in. As I got to know her more, I admired her creativity and bold personality. She has become one of my all-time favorite characters. The other characters were also fantastic and unique--all had their own little quirks that distinguished their character--and all of them played a part in Janie's experiences.

My favorite aspect of the book was how the author weaved in some history and related it to the theme of the book. Janie was working on school project and she had to do research on these two amazing African American women from the Civil Rights movement. I loved reading about that and thought it really awesome how the author was able to connect that to Janie and her want for normalcy. I don't know if I'm making any sense but that part of the book just really made an impression on me and it's one of those things where you have to read the book to understand.

Ten Miles Past Normal was a fantastic read--filled with humor and a whole lot of heart! It has a great main character in funky, creative Janie who is proof that being normal is so overrated. Read it! I highly recommend it. 5 out of 5 stars


  1. Great review-I loved this book too. All of the characters were so well done and Janie was immensely likable.

  2. Oh! I almost forgot about the history- they really did do a great job with that.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  3. A very great read indeed with all the review. Totally would love to read it too. I love the element of history. Great review!

  4. Leslie, I love the sound of this book and think I will need to get it as I think my students will really like it too. thanks for a great review!


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