Monday, April 16, 2007

Define "Normal"

Julie Anne Peters' Define Normal is a great addition to my list of depressing problem novels. Nice girl with good grades is to peer counsel black-lipstick-wearing-peer, Jazz. Jazz has some anger management issues, especially toward her mother. As the two get to know each other better, readers find that sometimes the good girls are the ones with the real problems. Hate to say more than that and ruin the plot, which has twists. Not the kind that make you scratch your head, but interesting, logical ones that surface in good time, thanks to sensitive writing. Not gushy or overly sentimental, this is another book that deftly describes the odds that some students need to face while trying to make it through school.

Especially appreciated that there was happiness in the ending, although not of the deus ex machina type. Happy endings require work and maintenance, just like happy endings do in real life.

Other good titles for problem novels-- Shelter, by Cooley; Rules of Survival, by Werlin; Wolfson's What I Call Life. I need to post my longer list before summer.