Frances O’Roark Dowell. Ten Miles Past Normal. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011.

High school is a period of change – awkward, confusing change.  Most people hope to fit in and to just be normal, a desire that Janie Gorman knows all too well.  As the resident “Farm Girl” of Manneville High School, Janie’s debut to the ninth grade comes with a reputation for having hay stuck in her hair and the smell of goat dung on her shoes (cute ballet flats, unfortunately).  Living on a farm used to be cool, but now most people would rather Janie stay far away.  To make matters worse, no one in her circle of friends has the same lunch as she does, so Janie ends up spending the lunch period in the library.  She has never felt so lonely and confused.

Fortunately, Janie is still best friends with Sarah, and they share everything together – encouragement in this new phase of their lives, a crush on Jeremy Fitch, and a project for their “Great Girls and Women” class.  The project, which focuses on inspirational female figures, introduces the girls to Manneville history.  During the 1960s, three local citizens established a Freedom School that taught individuals how to read and write so that they could vote.  This act was extremely dangerous but also incredibly meaningful, and it inspires Janie and Sarah.  Janie realizes that being called “Farm Girl” is better than other names.  In the meantime, she makes friends with some unlikely schoolmates, finds that Jeremy Fitch is not Prince Charming, and even gets thrown in jail.  No, Janie’s nowhere near normal – she’s extraordinary!

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Dowell, Frances O'Roark, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

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