Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee

Published by Aladdin

Summary:  Norah is off to a great start in seventh grade.  She has an awesome best friend, she’s acing all her classes, and there’s a boy in her math class who may reciprocate her crush.  One big difference between Norah and her classmates–she is returning after a two-year absence she spent battling leukemia.  Kids who know she’s been sick have different reactions.  Some pity her, while others think she’s trying to get extra attention.  It doesn’t help that her parents have strict rules for her first six months back, including no after school activities and no socializing on weekends.  Norah’s overly gushing guidance counselor wants her to talk to the whole school as part of a program on overcoming challenges, but Norah’s positive that’s the last thing she wants to do.  A sympathetic English teacher and a unit on one of Norah’s favorite subjects–Greek mythology–finally give her the chance to tell others about her experience in her own way.  256 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  A realistic look at what it’s like to re-enter life after a long illness.  The author’s afterword indicates that she has had first-hand experience with one of her own children, and this comes through in Norah’s voice as she works through her various emotions at trying to fit in after an experience that most of those around her can’t fully understand.

Cons:  The cover has kind of a 1975 vibe to it.

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