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Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite
Entering her first year in high school, a gifted teen determines to be a typical teenage student in the brilliant coming of age novel, Needing Normal (Freshman Year) by Emme Grange. Jett Harper's intelligence is above average. Accustomed to excelling in school, she is expecting that high school will be no different. While preparing for her first day at Presidio Prep, Jett overhears her parents arguing about her ability to handle her new environment. When her mother drops her off at school, she tells Jett to emulate the other students and act normal. In her first class, Jett is given an assignment in which she must work with four other students to complete a project that determines the majority of the year's grade. Failing a lesson assignment for the first time in her life and puzzled by the indefinite structure of social and friendship protocols, Jett struggles to define her place within the group. Can she uncover the secret to being normal? Will she ever fit in with her peers?
Seen from the perspective of an exceptionally gifted teen who struggles to conform to society's indefinable rules and customs, Needing Normal (Freshman Year) by Emme Grange is a remarkable young adult novel. Expertly and superbly written, the author captures every nuance of each character's personality and unbelievably empaths the thoughts and feelings of a gifted teenage girl. I was so enamored with Jett's character, and I applauded her determination to succeed in every aspect of her life. Jett's conflicts, her tenacity and perseverance, and the extraordinary people who encouraged and supported her create a poignant and unforgettable story. Her difficulties depict how life's path isn't smooth and that situations and conditions, which may seem hopeless and overwhelming, can be overcome with courage, thoughtfulness, generosity, and understanding. Inspiring and empowering, this young adult novel explores the true sense of friendship and acceptance. It is a brilliant novel with outstanding protagonists and a powerful message that leaves you feeling that our world is evolving into a more understanding and wonderful place.