Define "Normal" by Julie Anne Peters

Summary: 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

Identity, Inclusion/Exclusion, Stereotypes, Membership

Classroom Implications:
This is a wonderful book to begin a conversation on what is considered "normal" in different communities. Middle school students can latch onto this tough subject using this novel. It is also a great novel to reach out to marginalized youth that sit on the peripheries of normalized school student bodies. Julie Anne Peters has a variety of books that touch on this issue and uses her literature to advocate for marginalized youth. In Luna, she features and advocates for a transgendered character. Another book that reaches out to LGBTQ youth is What Happened to Lani Garver? This text is recommended for high school and carries some controversial images, language and content, but can be used as an excellent tool to inspire students to question identity and labels.


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