Norah Levy has just completed two years of treatment for leukemia and is ready to go back to the “real world” of middle school. She knows it’ll be tricky–but like the Greek mythological characters she read about while she was sick, Norah’s up for any challenge.
But seventh grade turns out to be trickier than she thought. Norah’s classmates don’t know what to make of her. Her best friend, Harper, tries to be there for her, but she doesn’t get it, really—and is hanging out with a new group of girls. 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 she meets Griffin, a cute boy who encourages her love of Greek mythology and art. And Norah decides not to tell him her secret—that she was “that girl” who had cancer. But when something happens to make secret-keeping impossible, Norah must figure out a way to share her cancer story.
But how do you explain something to others that you can’t explain to yourself? Can Norah take her cue from her favorite Greek myth? And then, once she finds the words, can she move forward with a whole new ‘normal’?
Honors & Lists
- A Junior Library Guild selection
- 2018 Vermont State Dorothy Canfield Fisher list
- 2018-2019 Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Secondary Book Award, Middle School
- 2019-2020 Finalist for the Missouri Association of School Librarians Mark Twain Reader Award
- 2019-2020 Maryland Association of School Librarians Black-Eyed Susan Award Nominee, Grades 6-9
- Kansas NEA Reading Circle List Junior Title
- Wisconsin State Reading Association’s Reading List
- 2019-2020 South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee
- CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2018
- Booklist: Surviving Middle School
- 2018 ILA Young Adults Choices Reading List
- Starred Reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal
- “Best New Books for Tweens and Preteens”—TheChildren’sBookReview.com
- SLJ: 16 Novels with Tween Appeal—School Library Journal
- Pernille Ripp: My Favorite Chapter Books of 2017
- ALSC Tough Topics Booklist
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 978-1481478519
“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 ★
“Readers will empathize with Norah as she tries to rediscover her place amongst people who were her friends. VERDICT A powerful story about surviving and thriving after serious illness.”
School Library Journal, 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.”
“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