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Define "Normal"

4.5 181
by Julie Anne Peters

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This thoughtful, wry story is about two girls—a "punk" and a "priss"—who find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program and discover that they have some surprising things in common. A new reading-group guide written by the author is included in the back of this paperback edition.


This thoughtful, wry story is about two girls—a "punk" and a "priss"—who find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program and discover that they have some surprising things in common. A new reading-group guide written by the author is included in the back of this paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this middle-school drama, two seeming opposites become friends and discover they are not such opposites after all. Peters (How Do You Spell G-E-E-K?) does little to update this well-trod theme, and while there are touching moments in her book, it's generally bland. Nerdy Antonia is assigned to peer-counsel Jazz, whom Antonia assumes is "hopeless. A punker. A druggie. A gang hanger." After a few agonizing sessions, Antonia begins to realize how much she needs someone to talk to. Her dad has split (as readers learn midway through), her mom's so depressed she can't get out of bed and Antonia's overwhelmed with responsibility and pain. Not only does Jazz literally intervene to get her family back on the road to recovery, but by offering her friendship, Antonia learns to depend on someone besides herself. In turn, she helps Jazz learn to talk to her parents and to compromise on arguments without compromising herself. They both learn that judging people by their outside appearance can be misleading. Occasionally, Peters captures a feeling perfectly, like Antonia's loneliness. "That's how I feel, I thought. Like a star...," she says, looking at the sky. "Distant. Detached. Blinking. On-off. On-off." Mostly, though, the exposition depends more on telling than showing. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
When Straight 'A' student Antonia Dillon agreed to become a peer counselor at Oberon Middle School, she expected to assist fellow students with their usual problems--boy trouble, school, parents, more boy trouble. Antonia certainly didn't expect to be stuck counseling Jasmine "Jazz" Luther, a girl with a reputation as a punker, druggie, and gang-banger. It's not as if Antonia didn't have enough to worry about in her own home, what with an absent father, two younger brothers, and a mother who stays in bed for most of each day, too depressed to venture outdoors. Against all odds, Antonia and Jazz strike up an improbable friendship. Antonia is amazed to learn that Jazz lives in a mansion and has a passion for playing classical piano. When Antonia's mother breaks down completely and her family is on the verge of being shattered, roles are reversed and it is Jazz who acts as counselor to Antonia. Toward the end of this fast and highly readable novel, both girls are on the brink of an enduring friendship, and each has learned a valuable lesson in tolerance. 2000, Little Brown, Ages 10 to 14, $14.95. Reviewer: Christopher Moning
At first glance, Antonia and Jazz could not be more different. Antonia follows the rules, studies hard, and struggles to keep her family together. Jazz is outspoken, pierced, and punk. Assigned to work with each other in peer counseling sessions, neither girl is thrilled with the prospect. During their sessions, Antonia learns more about Jazz's rebellious streak against her controlling mother while Jazz realizes that Antonia's mother is slipping into a deep depression. This process of discovery allows the girls to become friends, as each secretly is fascinated by the other's life. Jazz helps Antonia to accept assistance from adults when her mother finally needs to be hospitalized. When Jazz gives up playing the piano, something she loves dearly, to spite her mother, Antonia guides her in deciding what is important. Peters develops clear themes herelook beneath the surface for the real person, appearances may not reflect reality, and everyone has difficulties. Both Antonia and Jazz are welldeveloped protagonists with sympathetic supporting characters. The ending is a hopeful one in which the young women learn to accept and help each other. Readers who are looking for believable characters and a good story about friendship, being different, and growing wiser will appreciate Define "Normal". VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Little Brown, Ages 12 to 15, 208p, $14.95. Reviewer: Judy Sasges
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-When Antonia is assigned to Jazz as a peer counselor, she figures there is no way she can help this tattooed, pierced, incorrigible girl. They are complete opposites. Antonia is a straight-A student whose parents are divorced and she is struggling to keep what's left of her family together as her mother battles depression. Jazz's family is wealthy and seemingly perfect. As they continue through the 15 hours of peer counseling, it becomes clear that both girls have issues they need to work through. They go from wary classmates to friends who support and help one another. As Antonia's mother is hospitalized for her depression, Jazz battles her own mother's need to control by quitting the one thing she loves most-playing classical piano. Both girls deal with their losses by finding new ways to look at their problems and to resume life as "normally" as possible. This believable book is well written and readers will feel that they know both Jazz and Antonia, and they will want to see them triumph over the frustrations in their lives.-Kimberly A. Ault, Lewisburg Area High School, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.22(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Meet the Author

Julie Anne Peters is the critically acclaimed author of Keeping You a Secret, Between Mom and Jo, Far from Xanadu, and Luna, a National Book Award Finalist.

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Define Normal 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 181 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was great i finished it in one day i just couldnt put it down! the storyline is very organized and amazing. i love how both girls, Jazz and Tone, have family problems that needs solving. they did so together. i also like how they both can get along and not just let such prejudices get in the way of getting along. well tone and Jazz both did at first but when they got to know eachother they thought one another was bode. and getting along goes a long way. it resulted in a more positive influence for chuckie michael and Tone, and on Jazz's part too, i think that this is a great book to read i suggest anyone who has free time or anyone that is able to MAKE free time should get it and read it. its life changing!
LC16xo More than 1 year ago
I was required to read this book for a report, & I loved it! The characters are great, but the only part I did not like, was the fact that one of the main characters' family was crazy ... other than that, loved it!
13th-rabbit More than 1 year ago
i love this book. I think that this is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to remember that normal is impossible. julie anne peters is an amazing writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This shows you everybody haves problems nobody is different from each other. This will help people understand other people in way not by the way the dress. Or by the way the act.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so amazing. I cant even put it down
blackberry15gw More than 1 year ago
I ReAd IT in 6th Grade And Fell in LovE WiTh IT!!!!!!!!!!! The StTORY LinE Was GreAt And it SuckEd ME in FRoM BEGGinIg To EnD!!! IT did HAvE A Few Parts That DraggEd oN, BUt fOR ThE MoSt PARt IT was An amazing Read tHat i sTill RememBer... IT Shows you that people Aren't Always WHat thEy seem and everyone has their own struggles that they have to deal with... It keeps you thinkingfrom beggining to end...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Very heartwarming with a touch of spunk(edge). HIGHLY RECCOMENDED
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book I've ever read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok so im a girl who loves Black Veil Brides, Avenged Sevenfold, and Pierce The Veil... What am i considered? Because most call me "emo"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Now I might have a little language problems so im sorry.) I started to go off and dream. Queen Chrysalis was trying to take my powers."Give me your powers little hedgehog.",Chrysalis. "You little *beep* changeling.",I said."Do not say that to your ruler of equestria.",Chrysalis said."No your not. Your just a *beep* little changeling.",I said. "Well say that to Firework you little *beep* hedgehog.",Chrysalis said. I sighed."Why would you do this Chrysalis?",I asked. "You suck Chrysalis.",I said. Chrysalis was putting me on this weird platform with straps."This is how I will take your powers.",Chrysalis said. When she was about to strap me in I woke up terrifyed. "Blazin what's wrong",Firework said."Wait what are you doing here?",Blazin said."I'm living with you now remember.",Firework said. I remembered. I put my face on the pillow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in fifth grade, then again in eight grade. I absolutely love it and it teachers tweens and teens out there that there is no "normal" and ppoe hould not be judge by their appearances. Good issue
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book several times throughout my life. I read it when I was in middle school, and then at least twice when I was in high school. In recent years, I have graduated college and have since become an elementary school teacher. I would absolutely suggest this book to a somewhat older crowd of kids. The themes and situations portrayed in the book are quite heavy at times, therefore so relevant to our current day and age. The generations we are raising up need to know they are loved and have their own identities. This book helps to unveil certain situations that many families face as well as loving resolve. I would recommend this book to adolescents and adults alike!  :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an introverted outsider who has felt the wrath of depression and bullying, I thought that all the others who were talented (because I am not in any way talented) were "normal". All that is is a vicious image of a "perfect human" (oxymoron) that we compare ourselves to. It is an illusion of the mind. Althouh I still suck at everything, I have to say that this book made me much more confident about myself and "normalicy".
rockerbabyfi12 More than 1 year ago
This book is pretty predictable and has a basic YA plot line. That being said, it's a cute book and a quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My news year resulution is to do my best to get rid of my habits.But only through the LORD will i ever be able to quit my addictions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had this book for summer reading and when I read ,it is like you can relate from someone's perspective which is what i like about this book . Nicely written . It is like two people from differrent worlds collide .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have had a horrible life and i mean horrible people make fun of me and now they dont as ive asked them many times but they cannot define normal not only that but i have been so hurt by what the people have said about me i had to do consuling not peer consuling though and my counsler gave me this book and now im more happy 87% thanks for helping me and the people at my school see its impossible to define normal and truly nobody is normal!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing book its weird diffrent and very interesting i love it and will recomand it to anyone