Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 978-1481478519
Pre-order from: Indiebound · Amazon · Barnes & Noble
A Junior Library Guild selection
Read my blog post about the book on the Nerdy Book Club blog.
Norah Levy has just completed two years of treatment for leukemia and is ready to go back to the “real world” of middle school. The hospital social worker warns her that the transition back may be tricky, but Norah isn’t worried. Because compared with battling cancer, how tricky can seventh grade be?
Very. Everyone is either treating Norah like she will break at any second, or acting weird about all the attention she’s getting. Her best friend, Harper, does her best to be there for Norah, but she doesn’t get it, really–and is hanging out with a new group of girls, leaving Norah feeling a little unsteady. Norah’s other good friend, Silas, is avoiding her. What’s that about, anyway?
When Norah is placed with the eighth graders for math and science (thanks to an amazing tutor while she was sick), she meets Griffin, a cute boy who encourages her love of drawing and Greek mythology. And Norah decides not to tell him her secret–that she was “that girl” who had cancer. For the first time in a long while, she feels she can be herself, without pity or the constant questions. And Norah is afraid that might change if he knew.
But when something happens to make secret-keeping impossible, Norah must figure out a way to share her story. But how do you explain something to others which you can’t explain to yourself? And then, once you find the words, how do you move forward with a whole new ‘normal’?
"The moment that really sings is when Norah realizes that there are some life experiences that change you forever, and that’s not always a bad thing. Dee, whose acknowledgments hint at family experience with childhood cancer, does an exceptional job accurately depicting Norah’s struggles in a way that is translatable to those with varied understanding of illness. A powerful story not only about illness, but about accepting yourself for who you are—no matter the experiences that shaped you."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The authenticity of Norah’s story can be credited to the author’s own experience as the mother of a cancer patient. But this is not a book about cancer; rather, it’s about the process of moving forward in its wake. Readers who appreciate well-wrought portrayals of transformative middle school experiences, such as Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger (2015), will find a story in a similar spirit here."—Booklist
"In writing this remarkable novel, Barbara Dee has performed an amazing feat. She has traveled to places you hope you will never have to go, and then drawn a lovely, heartbreaking, warm, funny, and ultimately hopeful map of the way back home."—Jordan Sonnenblick, DRUMS, GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE
"Barbara Dee has an unfailing sense of the dynamics of middle school social life. Spot-on portrayals of friends and family relationships frame a powerful main character who’s determined to find her way back. Halfway Normal has a brave, kind heart–as tender and triumphant as the main character herself."—Karen Romano Young, HUNDRED PERCENT