I read TEN MILES PAST NORMAL by Frances O’Roark Dowell as an e-galley, loved it, and will be picking up a copy for my classroom library. It’s one of those YA titles that high school kids will love but that’s also going to be great for 7th and 8th grade readers.
As the book begins, main character Janie is starting high school with a few strikes against her: goat poop on her school shoes, hay in her hair, a best friend who no longer lives in the neighborhood since Janie’s family moved out to an organic farm, and a mother who’s now blogging about farm life (Oh, how my own kids will relate to the woes of this girl with her blogging mom!) Why can’t she just be normal?!
But then things get interesting, and normal starts to seem overrated. There’s the project with her best friend Sarah and Sarah’s rogue sister Emma that brings Janie back to an era of civil disobedience gone by. There’s the high school Jam Band and the boy called Monster (yes, it’s really his name) who encourages her to play bass. The book carries an ambitious mix of plot lines, but it’s all handled with as much humor, joy, laughter, honesty and fun as I’ve seen in a novel. The characters are people I wish I could hang out with; I’d be at their Friday night hootenanny on the farm in ten seconds flat.
Highly recommended, funny, and wonderful.