The Book Reviews – Website

August 30, 2009

Define Normal

Define “Normal”

Author: Julie Anne Peters

Page Length: 196

Reading Level: 5.3

Genre: Fiction         

PLOT SUMMARY: When overachieving, conservative Antonia agrees to participate in peer counseling, she never dreams that Jasmine (Jazz) who is punk, has purple hair, wears black lipstick, and is a gang hanger will be her partner.  The first meeting between the two girls is spent telling each other about themselves.

Antonia is determined to help Jazz as she learns she hates her mom.  But Antonia or (Tone) as Jazz calls her, has problems of her own.  Her dad has left the family, her mom is in bed suffering from severe depression and she is in charge of caring for her younger brothers as well as taking care of the house.  As her time becomes limited, Tone falls behind in her math class and receives a “C” for the first time.

When Tone admits to Jazz she can’t swim, Jazz invites her over for a swim lesson in her Olympic size indoor pool.  Tone learns that Jazz’s family is very wealthy and that Jazz is an accomplished pianist.  She doesn’t understand why Jazz doesn’t like her parents who appear friendly and supportive.

As the story progresses, Tone’s mother is hospitalized and she and her brothers are placed in a foster home.  Tone feels that Jazz is her only link to survival and continues to have counseling sessions with Jazz trying to help her get along with her parents while expressing her problems to Jazz. 

The relationship between the girls grows into a trusting friendship.  Both girls find ways to build a bond with their mothers as one grows between them as well. 

REVIEW: The characters are developed realistically enough that the reader can believe Jazz or Tone may appear in their classroom in person.  Although unlikely, the friendship that develops between two girls who are exact opposites in interests, tastes, and values is believable.  The book could be used in a study of diversity, acceptance, and tolerance.  Also, it teaches that outside appearances often hide what is really going on within one’s self, and often times those who seem to be most “normal” have hidden secrets and issues that need attention.

There is a Reader’s Guide at the end of the novel to help with discussion. I would recommend this book for any female over the age of 12. 

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Mild profanity

AREAS OF TEACHING: Compare/Contrast, Cause/Effect, and Character

RELATED BOOKS: Luna, Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xanadu



REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner



  1. thanks for the help c;

    Comment by hector — February 19, 2013 @ 12:45 am | Reply

    • it was at 6:48 pm February 18,2013

      Comment by hector — February 19, 2013 @ 12:49 am | Reply

  2. best book ever

    Comment by hector — February 20, 2013 @ 1:25 am | Reply

  3. i was hoping for a detailed ending, but thanks anyways!

    Comment by Anonymous — September 23, 2016 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: