Title: Define Normal
Author: Julie Ann Peters
Who Should Read It? This is a great, important read for all teenagers and junior high/high school students. It's appeal is so wide spread, though, that I think that most adults (especially those who had geeky, awkward, difficult teen moments) will also enjoy it.
What I Have to Say:
This book was GOOD and, dare I say, important. When Jazz and Antonia fime themselves in peer counseling together, Antonia is annoyed. On the surface, they are two people that couldn't be more different: Jazz with her "punk" looks and her richer, over-present parents; Antonia (or Tone, as we come to know her) with her prissy looks, her lack of a Dad, and her sick mom. As they develop relationship through their peer counseling, though, we begin to learn that these two girls might have more in common than what the surface shows; more than that, they might have more to offer each other than one could ever imagine.
The bond formed between Tone and Jazz is fresh and unexpected (not that they form a bond, but the bond itself), and it teaches us that there is more to most things than meets the eye; we should never judge anything (including a person) by what we see on the surface. As hard as we try, this is a lesson that so many people have trouble learning, especially in junior high and high school. I wish some of my peers could have read this book when I was in junior high or high school. More than that, I wish I could have read this book. Jazz reminded me of a more slightly extroverted version of my high school self, and I think seeing the way she dealt with her struggles might have helped me immensely. And while her problem's and Tone's problems were different from my problems, they were all, in a sense, everyone's problems.
This book was edgy and somewhat gritty, and Peters dug right down into the heart of the matter, creating a fierce, intense story that wasn't so fierce or intense that it would be too much for a younger YA reader. Her story is believable, and I'm sure most readers will find a little bit of themselves in Tone and Jazz. So much so that it's almost impossible not to spend the whole book hoping for them and believing in them. And that's what makes this book important. The reader, even if for just a moment, is required to take a step back and stop subconsciously judging the world around them based on superficial things like image. In high school, that is big.
More than that, this books is such an enjoyable read that once you start, you won't want to put it down until you are done. "Define Normal" will make you realize just how unimportant the word normal really is.
Summary: Antonia is a "priss," Jazz is a "punk." Antonia belongs to the math club. Jazz hangs out at the tattoo parlor. Antonia's parents are divorced and her mother struggles to pay the rent. Jazz is from a traditional family and lives in a mansion with a pool. But when these two very different girls find themselves facing each other in a peer-counseling program, they discover they have some surprising things in common. Alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, this is an absorbing read that will keep audiences thinking and laughing.
Cover Story: While I imagined these two girls VERY differently than the cover portrays them, I still think this cover is quite nice. It's plain and simple and yet strangely compelling.