Ten Miles Past Normal

Ten Miles Past Normal

by Frances O'Roark Dowell


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Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416995869
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 05/22/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 211
Sales rank: 501,152
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Frances O’Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; Where I’d Like to Be; The Secret Language of Girls and its sequels The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away; Chicken Boy; Shooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Medal; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling In; the critically acclaimed The Second Life of Abigail Walker; Anybody Shining; Ten Miles Past Normal; Trouble the Water; and most recently the Sam the Man series. She lives with her family in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at FrancesDowell.com.

Read an Excerpt

Ten Miles Past Normal

  • Chapter One

    More Tales of the Amazing Farm Girl

    No one can figure out where the terrible smell is coming from, but everyone on the bus this morning can smell it and has an opinion.

    “Dude, I bet we just ran over a skunk!” yells out Stoner Guy No. 1 from the back of the bus. “That happened to us when I was a kid. We had to get rid of our car, ’cause the smell was, like, permanent.”

    “No way, dude,” comes the reply from his compadre, Stoner Guy No. 2. “That’s not skunk. That is definitely fecund matter we’re smelling.”

    Fecal, dude, fecal,” Stoner Guy No. 1 corrects him.

    “That’s what I’m saying, dude.”

    As it turns out, what we’re smelling is my shoe. Or, more to the point, the fecund matter that has attached itself to my shoe.

    Goat poop.

    The general din that erupts around me when the source of the terrible smell is traced to my left foot mostly consists of hooting, jeering, and a collective plea for me to throw the offending ballet flat out the window.

    “No throwing anything from the windows,” Steve, our bus driver, yells out from the front. “I don’t care how bad it stinks.”

    All the kids sitting near me move to the back of the bus, cramming in three and even four to a seat, so I’m sitting alone in a sea of empty rows. Not just my face, but my whole body, has turned hot lava red.

    Farm Girl strikes again.

    I mentally retrace my smelly steps to the bus stop, back down the driveway to the house, in through the front door, out through the back door, and all the way to the goat pen. Milking the goats every morning is the first chore of my day, and on school days, when I’m running late, I sometimes risk wearing my civilian clothes, careful not to squirt or spill any goat milk on my jeans, and very, very careful to avoid the fragrant goat poop pellets.

    This morning I was running later than usual and milked the girls at warp speed. I recall being proud not to have gotten any milk on myself or even on the ground. Clearly I should have focused less on the goats’ milk and more on their other bodily excretions.

    As soon as the bus pulls up to school, I make my escape and sprint to the girls’ bathroom on the second floor by the art room, hoping it won’t be as populated as the more conveniently located first-floor bathroom. I find two girls huddled by the radiator grille, one crying, the other comforting her. They appear to be the only people in here. The comforter glares at me for invading their space, and I smile back lamely, holding up my shoe.

    “Unfortunate incident,” I explain, sounding possibly even dumber than I feel. “Just ignore me.”

    The sobbing girl sniffs the air and gasps, “What’s that smell?”

    I grab a wad of paper towels from the dispenser. “My shoe. Sorry. I stepped in some goat poop this morning. It must have been really fresh, too, because usually goat manure doesn’t stink that much. The pellets are generally pretty dry.”

    Sobbing Girl’s eyes widen in recognition. “Aren’t you in my PE class? Didn’t you, like, one time have this horrible rash on your legs? From hay or something?”

    “It was actually this organic fertilizer my dad was trying,” I explain, trying to pretend we’re having a perfectly normal teenage girl conversation. “Turns out I’m allergic to worm castings. But I’m not actually allergic to worms. Go figure.”

    The girls stare at each other a second and crack up. “Wow!” Sobbing Girl says. “That’s the most insane thing anyone has ever said to me! You are totally weird.”

    Gosh, I’m glad I could cheer her up.

    The girls leave, still giggling, and I scrub my shoe until there is only the faintest whiff of goat matter left. I slip the shoe on my foot, grab my backpack, and hurry out the bathroom toward my locker, eyes downward. With any luck, nobody from my bus will be around, and if they are, they won’t notice me.

    “Nice shoes!” someone yells out from a group of jocks huddled around a locker. “You oughta bottle that smell. Eau de Crap!”

    I breathe in deeply through my nose, an exercise I read about in my best friend Sarah’s yoga magazine. Breathe in, focus deeply on an image you find pleasing and relaxing, breathe out.

    My rebel brain immediately envisions the farm on a summer morning, the air already hazy, butterflies floating across the wildflowers. I see the house with its wraparound porch, fresh white paint, cerulean blue shutters. I hear the slam of a screen door, the peaceful clucking of chickens.

    Ah, yes, our farm. How relaxing to meditate on the place that has made me the laughingstock of the ninth grade and probably the biggest loser in the entire school.

    And to think it was my idea to live there in the first place.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Ten Miles Past Normal 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
    Lauren817 More than 1 year ago
    Ten Miles Past Normal is one of the most adorable and hilarious coming-of-age stories I've read in a while! How was little Jane supposed to know when requesting that her parents move to a farm, they would actually do so? Sure, it may sound like every little kid's dream, but come high school it won't be nearly as fun as cute, as Jane is soon to learn. For one, on the first day of high school school, Jane steps in goat poop when doing her daily farm chores (yes, farm chores) and goes to school with it not noticing, but everyone else does as they soon begin to call her "the girl who came to school with goat poop on her shoe." Adding to the horribleness that is Jane's freshman year of high school is the fact she has barley any classes with any of her friends, including lunch. But when gets offered the chance to learn bass and join Jam Band with her new friend Monster's help, she jumps at the chance, and when she meets a new girl at lunch, she quickly begins to see that things can get better, but will she realize being ten miles past normal is the best thing ever in time? Only more pages will tell in this sweet story of one girl's journey to becoming her own person. As with most books I enjoy, I really enjoyed the characters in Ten Miles Past Normal. All of them were there own unique people and that's what I loved most about them. For instance, there's Monster who's one of the tallest and scariest looking guys around, but as it turns out he's also one of the sweetest guys. Then there's Sarah, Jane's best friend, and Emma, Sarah's older sister, who are two girls who don't let anything get in the way of them getting what the want, which often cased for several laugh-out-load funny scenes. Finally, there's Jane, the queen of them all, and while Jane may think being "normal" is the thing to be, her journey to become anything but is funny and heartwarming. While the plot of this was kind of scattered over the place, I still enjoyed this book to the fullest potential possible. I loved how Frances tied so many different plot lines together in a way that they never felt overwhelming, and how she also managed to show through her characters that being normal is way overrated and that you should never judge a book by its cover. In all, Ten Miles Past Normal is a unique read filled with many lovable characters that will leave almost anyone with a smile on their face by the end. Grade: A+
    BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    Ten Miles Past Normal is quirky and easy read. Janie, the main character is easy to relate to, and her adventures are realistic. The secondary characters, such as Monster, are wonderful and add so much to the story. Another thing that I like is that Janie's mom is present in her life, and portrayed as a "normal" if a bit clueless and a tad annoying at times mom. I think its a good lesson how she realizes how other's opinions and thoughts are dictating her opinion and I liked how she accepted who she was. This is a sweet contemporary, and I really enjoyed.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Im only 30pgs into the book and i already love it i strongly suggest for you to read it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was not like any other books I'm reading right now. I can honestly say I enjoyed reading this book. I recommend this to anyone who wants a bit of a different kind of story. -A
    epicrat More than 1 year ago
    Ten Miles Past Normal is one of those books where I got really sad when the last page came and had to leave all these interesting characters behind! This is definitely a book for anyone who went through high school feeling out of place but - hopefully, eventually, unexpectedly, happily - found a niche to call their own. Janie was such an excellent character! She was funny, easy to relate with, creative, level-headed, endearing, and when she finally found her groove in high school, Janie definitely became a rockstar - or she definitely had the makings of one (I say that because the ending really leaves it up in the air). Her family were interesting, her new friends were interesting, her best friend was interesting - seriously, Frances O'Roark Dowell has brought to life such fascinating characters that I wish they had gone to MY high school. What's unusual is that there really isn't any major romance arc. I say "unusual" because I like to have a little romance to further whet my curiosity. While I kept my eye out for one and thought there could have been one, Ten Miles Past Normal didn't need one. Janie didn't really need a guy. I didn't really need the romance to drive a story. The characters, like I said, really took off with the story and I gladly followed their lead! It was refreshing, truth be told, to see how Janie carved her own place in the world, without the support of a love interest and the distracting desire to have one. A really great contemporary, Ten Miles Past Normal delighted me with its larger-than-life characters and brought back fond memories of me not being normal during high school.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was so good. Very well written and epic characters. This book reminds me so much about myself!! A must read for anyone trying to fit in when you were born to stand out.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Proves that nobody is perfect
    Tawni More than 1 year ago
    Ten Miles Past Normal was a quick and fun read, but I found that it was boring at times. There was very little dialogue, though when there was any, it was mostly funny. The writing was great and clear and I found myself giggling and heartbroken along the way. Janie just wants to blend in at school. She convinces herself that she doesn't need any new friends. After a few humiliating events, she just wants people NOT to notice her at all. I felt so sorry for her, because high school, as her mom said multiple times, is supposed to be a good time in someone's life. She felt alone and couldn't help but to think it was her fault, after all, she requested that they move to a mini-farm in the first place! Then Janie and her best friend Sarah finally get the chance to talk to Jeremy, the cute Jam Band kid. Without any musical talent, Janie and Sarah decide to join Jam Band and along the way meet Monster (yeah, that's his real name ;) ) and very talented musician who makes Janie feel special. Janie and Sarah, while working on a school project, find out that a local named Harlan Pritchard played a big role in a historical event. Then they go off on a sort of adventure, along with Sarah's older sister Emma (who is the wild child), to uncover the real stories and bring light to these heroes! I really loved the characters is this story. Everyone added a different aspect to it and they were all fun to learn about. My favorite was Monster. He was mature, but fun and made Janie feel like she didn't just blend into the wall and go unoticed. I loved the little adventures and self-discoveries Janie has throughout the book, but I just couldn't get past the dragging on of the first person point-of-view. I would have enjoyed more dialogue and feel that it could've added much more to the novel and broken up the monotonous vibe! Bottom line is that I feel it is a good, quick read, but nothing out of the ordinary.
    Books_R_me-13 More than 1 year ago
    Ten miles past normal is a fun Very relatable Story about Janie Gorman who just wants to be normal! From her Mother's Blog, To the Goat poop incident, and living on a farm. Then she meets Monster, Yes that is his real name. He teaches her how to play the bass. I would recommend this to anyone who wants an Easy read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Francis O'Roark Dowell really knows how to conect with teenage girls.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Hey guys so most of your reviews sound really good, but im still not sure i want to buy this book... so can you tell me about the plotline and the main character? Thanks! Please reply to Bianca ( thats me! )
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is awesome all of alyson noel books are!!!! :) :) :)
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This was really good book. It was possibly one of the best books I have ever read. I don't know what makes it so good but something about it is just so deep an meaningfull.
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    Im loving it so far, im on page 45 i cant wait to see what happens!
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