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Define "Normal" Paperback – May 7, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316734896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316734899
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For the last 20+ years, I've been writing books for young readers. My YA novel, Luna, the story of a transgender teen beginning her transition from male to female, was a National Book Award finalist and an American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. (Thank you award committee members.) My other books about gender queer youth include Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xanadu (retitled, Pretend You Love Me), Between Mom and Jo, grl2grl: short fictions, Rage: A Love Story, She Loves You, She Loves You Not..., It's Our Prom (So Deal With It), and my newest book scheduled for 2014, The Double Life of Swanee Durbin. Also check out my book about bullycide, By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead.

I'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN America, the Authors Guild, and the Colorado Authors' League. I live with my partner, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado. (We're celebrating our 38th anniversary this year.

More information about me and my books can be found on my Web site: www.JulieAnnePeters.com

Customer Reviews

I wish some of my peers could have read this book when I was in junior high or high school.
A. Baker
Very little of it comes across as interesting or well-written to me in terms of plot, character development, or setting.
Emily Martha Sorensen
I have learned some valuable lessons from this book's message, specifically about judging a book by its cover.
"proudhartprncess"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By P. Bigelow VINE VOICE on December 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Antonia, a straight-A student, a teacher-pleaser, and a "priss," is assigned Jasmine, a punker, a "in-your-face" non-conformist, for peer counseling in their middle school. Both are certain that the counseling is a waste of their time. But as Antonia's home life disintegrates, she finds she looks forward to meeting with Jazz. And Jazz likes talking with Antonia about her family life as well. The two slowly form a bond.

This is much more than a book about two girls in middle school. It's about the effects that both "good" and "bad" parents have on their children, it's about deciding what is, and isn't, normal, and it's about accepting the non-conformists in our midst.

This is an excellent book for all ages (even though it is about 8th graders, high schoolers can get something from it). Parents, too, should read it - it might help them understand what - and more importantly why - their children are revolting.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading "Define 'Normal'" very much. I found it to be an excellent book because I can relate all too well to both Antonia and Jazz. In this story it clearly shows how it is sometimes hard to accept a reaching hand and how sometimes you just want to take care of things on your own. Still, it shows the power of friendship and how much friends can help us, and how friendship can be found in the most unexpected places.

I've re-read this book many times from the local library, and have come to decide to buy my own hardcover copy of it. Love this book, awesome read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Aurora on December 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I liked this book. It was pretty cool, and on the overall, quite well-written. I finished it in one day though. The story wasn't too long, and I felt the author could've written it even better if she'd put in more to give us more complete, 3-dimensional characters. However Julie Anne Peters has tackled the problems that teenagers nowadays do face, so we can relate. The plot was o.k, really, at first it started off a little not-so-good, but then the story started to thicken and you got more involved with Jazz and Antonia. That was when it started to get interesting and made you want to read on. I liked the part about the girls' peer counseling programs, and their discussions. It seemed genuine enough, like typical conversations, not fake or contrived. Like I said though, this is a good book on the whole, even if not excellent. Those aged 11 and above will probably enjoy it. 'Define "Normal" ' makes for good, fun reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jesser2004 on January 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Let me start off by telling you that I loved this book!!! It was so real and had these life-like charcters! I loved it!

Anyway, this book starts off in the peer conseling room with Jazz and Antonia. They are totally differnt people, as we can tell for sure, right from the beginning. Tone seems to express herself with her school work and picking up the slack at home. Jazz seems to have a very real perspective on life. Even though Tone (Antonia) describes her as a punker, a druggie, and a gang hanger they become friends by Tone getting into some trouble at home. After this event Tone really needs someone to be her friend for once. They keep talking at peer sessions and Tone fights with herself because of her mom being clinicly depressed. ( I know!! Tough to go through!). Anyway, soon Jazz has quit the one thing se love (piano) and Tone can't let this happen so she soon replaces the peer session with Jazz playing the piano!

In the end everything works out but I wouln't tell you exactly what happens because that would totally ruin this ausome story. Anyway,I give Julie Anne Peters props for writing this book. Great charcters and situations!! Loved it! I totally recomend this book. Also I love this tittle, Define "Normal". Thats my question for the day. No my intire life.

Define "Normal"!!

Jessica
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karma_Doll on February 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Define "Normel": A Novel, is a fairly good and funny book. Matter of fact, VERY funny at times. The book is intresting and creative, but I don't think it is as even nearly as good as other teen books, like Francesca Lia Block's. The story line is a little flat, and the characters arn't deep. Other wise, it's okay.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Solon Middle School Student on October 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
The book Define Normal by Julie Anne Peters was a great book. It was about two teenage girls that by looks are completely opposite. Antonia-very smart and dedicated to school joined the peer counseling program at school to help out other students and so she can go to college a year earlier, she was looking forward to doing this until she found out who she was assigned to counsel, Jazz Luther-a punker, and a drugie. After the first few sessions Antonia was begging to quit but her teacher convinced her to give Jazz a chance. When they started telling the truth and letting out some of their feelings they started to realize that they are not as different as they thought. They start to become friends and realize how good it is to have someone there to lean onto and to always talk to. The main intentions of the book were to not judge someone by how look and not to give up on just on a first impression. I think the author did a great job proving that point. I really recommend this book to others. It is very interesting and almost anyone can enjoy it. It helps remind you not to judge people by the inside and not to always assume and jump to conclusions before you really get to know them.
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