August 20, 2017

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Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee | SLJ Review

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redstarDEE, Barbara. Halfway Normal. 256p. S. & S./Aladdin. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481478519.

Gr 4-7 –Norah Levy is entering seventh grade after being away from school for two years, during which she spent time in and out of the hospital battling leukemia. Transitioning back to the “real world” is challenging—everyone in the seventh grade knows her as “The Girl Who.” She’s tired of being treated like she’s fragile; some students are even jealous of the attention she receives. It doesn’t help that her overprotective parents won’t allow her to participate in after-school or weekend activities with her friends. As she’s making the difficult shift from patient to student, Norah also deals with the everyday challenges of middle school: cliquey friends, crushes on boys, and skipping classes. Readers will empathize with Norah as she tries to rediscover her place amongst people who were her friends. When she is placed in eighth grade math and science (she got ahead during her private tutoring), she bonds with a boy named Griffin over books, Greek myths, and her drawing ability. Norah avoids talking about her cancer at school, so Griffin doesn’t know about her past. When keeping her secret becomes impossible, Norah has to find a way to share her story. She learns is that she has been forever changed by her life experiences—but that’s okay. VERDICT A powerful story about surviving and thriving after serious illness.–Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public Library System, OH

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

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