Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ten Miles Past Normal - Frances O'Roark Dowell

Publisher:  Simon and Schuster
Pages:  225
Source:  Received an ARC for review from publisher
Genre:  Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Read For:  What's In a Name Challenge

I loved the character Janie in this book.  Maybe because I could identify with her.  I grew up on a farm in Indiana.  I loved it.  In high school it was cool to be a farmer in a farming town if you were a guy.  Most of the girls I knew who grew up on farms wanted to live in town.  I'd give anything to live in the country again.  Janie and I faced a lot of the same problems.  She raised goats and chickens and my family raised pigs and chickens.  I had chores to do just like Janie.  My best friend lived in town.  It was cool to spend the night with her.  There was so much I could do there that I was unable to do at home.  I was the shy type unlike Janie.  Janie's best friend was the total opposite from her.  Sarah tended to be a bit domineering.  This story takes us for a ride through Janie's life as she finds new friends and learns it's okay to branch out from the old friends.  The story is full of humor.  Janie and her best friend Sarah along with Sarah's older rebel sister are arrested while working on a school project.  The fact that Sarah, the rebel in the making is the one that gets them arrested is all the funnier.  Janie makes friends with a girl she at first considers creepy named Verbena, only to learn they both are in the library for the same reason.  She follows Sarah to watch the Jam Band because of a cute boy.  She learns that she really enjoys jamming with the band even though Sarah doesn't.  She learns a lot about herself and friendship and its many nuances from Jam Band member Monster.
This is definitely a book I will put on my shelves for my students.  They will be able to identify with the many characters as they themselves go through the rite of passage called growing up.

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