Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Define "Normal" by Julie Anne Peters

Peters, Julie Anne. 2000. Define "Normal." Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Upon agreeing to meet with Jasmine, or Jazz as she liked to be called, as a peer counselor, Antonia never dreams that the girl with the black lipstick, purple hair, and pierced eyebrow will end up helping her to deal with serious home issues and become a good friend.

I kept thinking that this book might lean in the lesbian direction, because Julie Anne Peters is well-known for her books that focus on the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered theme, but it never did. I like it and think that the theme it does focus on is so true for young adults today. Basically the theme is that you can't judge a book by its cover. One protagonist - Antonia, is the very straight-laced, straight A's, conservative type girl...but she's dealing with a dysfunctional family life where she is the mother figure for her little brothers (cooking, cleaning, getting groceries, signing school permission slips, etc.), her mom is in severe depression, and her father ran out on them. The other protagonist - Jazz, is the punk-rock, purple-haired, pierced, tattooed type who you would expect to have the dysfunctial family, be in a gang, or deal/do drugs but who actually is from a very well-off, well-to-do family, makes good grades, and plays classical piano. Having to be peer counselors to each other, they solidify a friendship that ordinarily might not have happend. I liked the juxtaposition of these two characters and how it makes you think about appearance and that most of the time those appearances are just something to hide behind.

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