Ten Miles Past Normal By Frances O’Roark Dowell

Hardcover: 224 pages

Publisher: Atheneum (March 22, 2011)

I’ve been lucky that we got a whole new crop of books at work. So when I saw this one, I really couldn’t pass it up! There’s something about this cover that’s so liberating. The pastoral view, the hair in the face and the bass just really add to the organic feel of this novel.

This is the story of how Janie Gorman ruined her own life, finds herself in the process and realizes being normal is overrated. After a fourth-grade field trip to a farm, nine-year-old Janie proposes her family move to one. But once she enters high school, living on a farm is no longer cool especially when she feels shunned by her peers for her farm girl ways.

All Janie wants to be is normal and that’s immensely hard especially because she isn’t normal. Forget about free goat cheese, all she wants is to have someone to talk to at the lunch table. Enter Verbena with the angelic face, Monster with the red hair and the Jam Band with it’s motley crew. Verbena freely talks to her, Monster encourages her to play bass and the Jam Band gives her the outlet she needs to feel accepted. Along the way, Janie learns about local heroes and celebrates the lives they lived. She herself comes to terms with what makes her Janie and embraces her life ten miles past normal.

This book is fun and sweet. I sincerely wish for a sequel following Janie and Monster (yes, that’s his real name.) It’s good, clean fun and the characters in it remind me of my high school experience (as my best friend played the bass, and there was a guy like Monster.)

Was your high school experience ten miles past normal?

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