Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Review: Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
This new novel by Frances O'Roark Dowell makes me think of sunshine. Ten Miles Past Normal is a sweet and imaginative coming-of-age story that will give older readers nostalgic warm and fuzzy feelings. Janie commands center stage with her cute and quirky voice, and light-hearted yet cynical take on the tribulations of early teen life. She is an utterly adorable heroine -- I would love to have her for a little sister (or a best friend, if I was several years younger). An unusual brand of outsider, Janie's not the troubled delinquent one might expect, merely an unusual farm girl who wants desperately to fit in, but isn't angsty about it. Her narration is conversational and personal, and will draw in readers like a warm embrace.
However, Janie isn't the only vibrant character in this novel; she is surrounded by a whole cast of larger-than-life personalities. Monster Monroe (yes, his real name) is unlike anyone Janie's ever met. He's even more bizarre than Janie's goat farm existence, and he's fine with that. Though Monster is several years older than her, their bond leads them on a tender journey of discovery that will warm readers' hearts. Then there's Janie's best friend, Sarah. Sarah is described as a "girl genius and world-changer,"* and lives up to the epithet. When the girls team up for a school project, exploring the fascinating civil rights struggle in their town's past, Sarah's passionate drive pulls the young friends into a deeper historical journey that adds layers of insight to the otherwise light, bright and sparkling novel.
Disclosure: I received an advance galley of this novel from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way.
This novel hits shelves today! Click here to purchase Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell.
*ARC p.72 -- this page number and quote may be different in the finished copy