Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:

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.

Frances O'Roark Dowell's fierce humor and keen eye make her YA debut literary and wise. In the spirit of John Green and E. Lockhart, Dowell's relatable, quirky characters and clever, fluid writing prove that growing up gets complicated…and normal is WAY overrated.

Ten Miles Past Normal is one of the most adorable and hilarious coming-of-age stories I've read in a while!

How was little Jane supposed to know when requesting that her parents move to a farm, they would actually do so? Sure, it may sound like every little kid's dream, but come high school it won't be nearly as fun as cute, as Jane is soon to learn. For one, on the first day of high school school, Jane steps in goat poop when doing her daily farm chores (yes, farm chores) and goes to school with it not noticing, but everyone else does as they soon begin to call her "the girl who came to school with goat poop on her shoe." Adding to the horribleness that is Jane's freshman year of high school is the fact she has barley any classes with any of her friends, including lunch. But when gets offered the chance to learn bass and join Jam Band with her new friend Monster's help, she jumps at the chance, and when she meets a new girl at lunch, she quickly begins to see that things can get better, but will she realize being ten miles past normal is the best thing ever in time? Only more pages will tell in this sweet story of one girl's journey to becoming her own person.

As with most books I enjoy, I really enjoyed the characters in Ten Miles Past Normal. All of them were there own unique people and that's what I loved most about them. For instance, there's Monster who's one of the tallest and scariest looking guys around, but as it turns out he's also one of the sweetest guys. Then there's Sarah, Jane's best friend, and Emma, Sarah's older sister, who are two girls who don't let anything get in the way of them getting what the want, which often cased for several laugh-out-load funny scenes. Finally, there's Jane, the queen of them all, and while Jane may think being "normal" is the thing to be, her journey to become anything but is funny and heartwarming.

While the plot of this was kind of scattered over the place, I still enjoyed this book to the fullest potential possible. I loved how Frances tied so many different plot lines together in a way that they never felt overwhelming, and how she also managed to show through her characters that being normal is way overrated and that you should never judge a book by its cover.

In all, Ten Miles Past Normal is a unique read filled with many lovable characters that will leave almost anyone with a smile on their face by the end.

Grade: A+

Ten Miles Past Normal is now out!

Source: Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab Program


  1. Yaay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I love the characters in this book too ;)

  2. Great review-this book just left me so happy and I loved that!

  3. I really enjoy a great coming-of-age novel that's done well! This sounds like a good read! Thanks for the review =)

  4. This one sounds so endearing, and I love coming-of-age books...Wonderful review, Lauren! :)

  5. This looks so cute! I'll keep an eye out for it. Thanks, Lauren!

  6. This was very heartwarming and sweet. Nice review :)


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