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Halfway Normal Hardcover – September 5, 2017
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“Readers will feel with her as Norah struggles with how, when, and to whom she should tell her story—if at all. The moment that really sings is when Norah realizes that there are some life experiences that change you forever, and that's not always a bad thing. Dee, whose acknowledgments hint at family experience with childhood cancer, does an exceptional job accurately depicting Norah's struggles in a way that is translatable to those with varied understanding of illness… A powerful story not only about illness, but about accepting yourself for who you are—no matter the experiences that shaped you. “ STARRED REVIEW Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews)
“In writing this remarkable novel, Barbara Dee has performed an amazing feat. She has traveled to places you hope you will never have to go and then drawn a lovely, heartbreaking, warm, funny, and ultimately hopeful map of the way back home.” (Jordan Sonnenblick Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie)
“Barbara Dee has an unfailing sense of the dynamics of middle school social life. Spot-on portrayals of friends and family relationships frame a powerful main character who’s determined to find her way back. Halfway Normal has a brave, kind heart—as tender and triumphant as the main character herself.” (Karen Romano Young Hundred Percent)
"Readers will feel with her as Norah struggles with how, when, and to whom she should tell her story—if at all. The moment that really sings is when Norah realizes that there are some life experiences that change you forever, and that's not always a bad thing. Dee, whose acknowledgments hint at family experience with childhood cancer, does an exceptional job accurately depicting Norah's struggles in a way that is translatable to those with varied understanding of illness… A powerful story not only about illness, but about accepting yourself for who you are—no matter the experiences that shaped you." (Kirkus, Starred Review Kirkus Reviews)
"A powerful story about surviving and thriving after serious illness." (School Library Journal, Starred Review School Library Journal)
The authenticity of Norah's story can be credited to the author's own experiences as the mother of a cancer patient.But this is not a book about cancer; rather, it's about the process of moving forward in its wake. Readers who appreciate well-wrought portrayals of transformative middle-school experiences, such as Rebecca Stead's Goodbye Stranger (2015) will find a story in a similar spirit here. (Booklist Booklist)
About the Author
Barbara Dee is the author of Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, Star-Crossed, Truth or Dare, The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys, Trauma Queen, This Is Me From Now On, Solving Zoe (Bank Street Best Children’s Books), and Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life (Publishers Weekly, starred review). Barbara is one of the founders and directors of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival. She lives in Westchester County, New York, with her family, two naughty cats, and a rescue hound dog named Ripley. Read more about Barbara at BarbaraDeeBooks.com.
Top customer reviews
Thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
I first learned about this book from a post on the Nerdy Book Club blog back in February 2017, in which Dee talks about her motivation for this book (her son's cancer experience) and I KNEW I had to read it. It is just as wonderful as I expected it would be! Re-entry into real life after being out for an illness is an experience that all too many kids have to deal with, but very few of us are able to even remotely understand what that experience is like. Enter HALFWAY NORMAL.
Norah is such a relatable character, with her love of Greek mythology and doodling and completely understandable preteen angst. And that's even before you add in the cancer thing, which she does NOT want to define her. But how can you be normal when the world is so dangerous for your health and your parents are trying to protect you? Dee has captured the middle school world so very perfectly, and is able to write about cancer so realistically due to her own experiences as a parent.
Librarian note: Excellent representation of diversity in race/culture/sexuality in a completely natural way.
I can't recommend this book highly enough - it's a required purchase for all middle school libraries and classrooms, and a must-read for middle school teachers, administrators and guidance counselors.
Norah is starting 7th grade after missing the past TWO years for cancer treatments. She's ready to have a "normal' life again and reconnect with her friends as Norah, not the girl with cancer. However, she is worried that she's missed too much in two years and several of her "friends" rarely came to see her while she was in the hospital. She just wants things to the way they used to be but they're not. For one, Norah gets put in an 8th grade math and science class where she is the only 7th grader. She also having trouble connecting with her old friends at school because so much has happened in two years - plus her parents have put her on lock down with pages and pages of RULES. She also keeps her cancer a secret from a new 8th grade friend. As Norah learns to navigate her new halfway normal life she begins to realize that being a "cancer" kid is part of her story and normal isn't all is cracked up to be. Sprinkled with mythology references and allusions - this story is heartfelt and magical! I bought two copies for my fifth grade classroom!
Norah Levy is returning to seventh grade at Aaron Burr Middle School after two years away from school due to a battle with leukemia. The story opens with leukemia in the (mostly) past and Norah is ready to resume normal teen life. Only it’s not clear that the people around her are ready to treat her like a “normal” kid.
Barbara Dee does a strong take on writing a character with an illness, and I appreciated how Dee decided to write a story about the social struggles more than the physical and medical struggles. Norah is a good girl with a nerdy side, but she also makes some extremely unwise decisions in the story and at times ignores her parents’ mostly reasonable demands. I love myself some impulsive and poor judgment tween characters – Norah is one of them!
Possible issues with comprehension:
Dee layers in a story within a story about Greek mythology. Readers who aren’t already into the Greek myths might be confused by this layer, but I don’t think it will detract them from enjoying the overall story if they don’t dig the myths.
You know those readers who say they want to read something like The Fault in our Stars but you’re pretty sure they aren’t going to enjoy the slow pacing of TFioS or the whole rant about Xeno’s paradox? This is a book that will satisfy that younger reader who wants a heavier topic.