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Define "Normal"
Cover of Define "Normal"
Define "Normal"
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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...
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...
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Description-

  • 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.

About the Author-

  • Julie Anne Peters is the critically acclaimed author of Define "Normal," Keeping You a Secret, Pretend You Love Me, Between Mom and Jo, She Loves You, She Loves You Not..., It's Our Prom (So Deal With It), and Luna, a National Book Award finalist. She lives with her partner, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 3, 2000
    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.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2000
    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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    May 15, 2000
    Gr. 6^-8. Antonia Dillon, a driven honor student at Oberon Middle School, is not surprised when she is asked to become a peer counselor. It's just another honor to add to her resume. But her first counseling session is pure culture shock--Antonia has been paired with the notorious Jasmine "Jazz" Luther, a punker with incredible attitude who uses black lipstick and is into body piercing and tattoos. As the two girls reluctantly continue their sessions, a strange, tentative friendship develops, with each girl gradually revealing more and more about her troubled life. Antonia admits that her divorced mother is deeply depressed and unable to work or care for her family; Jazz talks about her controlling, materialistic yuppie parents and their expectations. As secret after secret is exchanged, it becomes obvious that the "priss" and the punker are made to be best friends. Although the book is marred by one-dimensional secondary characters and a pat conclusion, girls will still enjoy the appealing main characters in this after-school-special-style friendship story. A quick, enjoyable read that will also attract reluctant readers. ((Reviewed May 15, 2000))(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2000, American Library Association.)

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