Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'roark Dowell
I've only read two of Dowell's middle grade novels and loved both. Shooting the Moon and The Secret Language of Girls. This is the authors first YA novel. 14 yr old Janie lives on a farm, which was cool when she was younger not so much in high school. The kids on the bus call her farm girl. When Janie accidentally get on the bus with goat poop on her shoe, she has a very bad day. Janie's high school is large, Sarah the best friend, is the only friend from middle school she sees everyday. Janie spends her lunch period in the library. All of her old friends have lunch at a different time.
"Once in a while someone appears who gives you hope a cute boy reading the latest Sports Illustrated or a girl of the normal looking variety thumbing through the book on the This just in cart. Are they cafeteria refugees too? But they never show up two days in a row, and my hopes for finding friendship in the library are dashed yet again. That's my dream, of course. That some regular, everyday people will show up and recognize me as someone who is basically normal, in spite of my Farm Girl mishaps but whose soul is too sensitive to deal with the cafeteria alone."
With some work Janie goes from one friend to three. One is a boy named Monster who teaches her how to play bass. Bass playing Janie doesn't care what other people think of her.
This was a very easy story to fall into. I loved Janie's voice. She's simply trying to find where she fits in. Dowell excels at creating believable and realistic characters you want to cheer for. Ten Miles Past Normal is a very entertaining and fun read.
It's on the younger end of YA spectrum. Perfectly fine for fans of Dowell's middle grade novels. Also highly recommanded for fans of Joan Bauer. Ages 11up.