Book Review: 10 Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: 10 Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark DowellTen Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2012-05-22
Genres: Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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From bestselling author Frances O’Roark Dowell, a “funny and winning” (Kirkus Reviews) tale of one teen’s quest for normalcy—and the much more exciting detours she takes along the way.Janie Gorman is smart and creative and a little bit funky…but what she really wants to be is normal. Because living on an isolated farm with her modern-hippy parents is decidedly not normal, no matter how delicious the goat cheese. High school gives Janie the chance to prove to her suburban peers that she’s just like them, but before long she realizes normal is completely overrated, and pretty dull.     If she’s going to learn how to live large (and forget the haters), Janie will have to give up the quest and make room in her life for things from the fringe—like jam band, righteous chocolate, small acts of great bravery, and a boy named Monster.     Ten Miles Past Normal is a quirky road map for life—and also a reminder that detours are not about missing out, but about finding a new way home.

Normal is overrated. No, really it is. However, not a whole lot of us really see that in high school. I remember desperately wanting to fit in while in high school and to be normal. But, well, normal girls don’t emerge from the library every day with a stack of books. Normal girls talk about things like their nails and who dates who. NOT OMFG DARK TOWER HARRY POTTER WTFBBQ!! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I had some solid friends who liked books, who liked things other than their nails, but was I a normal teen? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Which is why I connected with 10 Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell.

Janie Gorman is a girl who also desperately wants to be normal. I mean, all things considered, she’s not horrifically abnormal. You see, when she was younger she went on a visit to this farm, and decided she wanted to live on a farm. Her weird-o parents actually went along with this and moved to a farm. At first it was cool, but now Janie is known as farm girl, and often has animal poop on her shoes and people make fun of her. OH and her mom runs a blog about her life on the farm.

This wouldn’t be all that embarrassing to those of us past our teenage years, but to a kid, holy crap, this drama is the center of the world. Janie has yet to find her place in the world at her new high school. She eats in the library every day, by herself instead of the cafeteria. All of her friends from middle school are in a different lunch and she’s too shy to make new friends. Of course, her life begins to turn around when her pushy friend Sarah makes Janie join jam band, and Janie discovers she’s pretty good on bass.

GUYS, this book is so full of quirky characters. Plus the parents actually do play a role in Janie’s life. They don’t just magically disappear. AND there are elderly people, and you all should know that I just love fictional elderly people. There are characters who are odd, but completely at ease with themselves, and they certainly help Janie on her journey of self-acceptance.

I really did enjoy 10 Miles Past Normal. I am all for ‘go on with your rockin’ self’ messages. I think it’s something kids need to hear. They don’t all need to be clones of each other. Plus, if you bring something unique to the table people will like you, you just have to be comfortable with your self first.

I also think Frances O’Roark Dowell’s novel would be appropriate for a middle grader looking for a young adult read. There isn’t really anything ‘bad’ per se in the book. Overall, it’s feel good, and friends, I am so down with that.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other Reviews:

Abby (The) Librarian
Chick Loves Lit
Pure Imagination

Purchase 10 Miles Past Normal here.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Ha, I was kind of similar. I had no bookish friends in high school, sigh.
    Awesome review, though! 10 Miles Past Normal sounds really fun–especially the old people part. Old people in YA are always awesome.

  2. I hung out with the popular crowd but how I managed this I’ll never know – I was the big reader, sci-fi horror movie lover etc – I was never really sure how I fit in but I suppose I did in some way.

    You made me laugh – I didn’t know you loved fictional eldery people! Hahaha : )

  3. Awesome review April! This one definitely sounds fun! I shall have to check it out! 🙂

  4. Fantastic review! I really enjoyed this book and its quirky characters too. I think that Janie’s desire for acceptance and being normal is something most teens could relate to. I thought when I read the book that this is like Into the Wild Nerd Yonder for a slightly younger audience.

  5. I always enjoy the quirky characters, and I strongly remember that feeling of wanting to be normal. Sounds like a book I need to add to my wishlist!

  6. Awesome. I was that girl taking tons of books out of the library too. I still am that girl. I am definitely going to have to read this one. I love when the message is that it’s okay to be yourself.

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