Chasing Normal by Lisa Papademetriou
The title says it all. Mieka just wants to feel normal. Even her name is not common. Her mom left three years ago. Mieka lives in Boston with her father who does not have a normal job. He is an artist just barely making ends meet.
They quickly fly to Houston because her paternal grandmother is seriously ill. Illness does not stop the grandmother from being cantankerous. She tells her granddaughter that she is overweight, among other things. It is at church summer camp where she has to deal with more trials. She gets her first period and has to go swimming. The staff and the campers are just incredulous that she doesn't know any bible stories. She and a staff member finally come up with the story of Jonah and whale and she makes the best art project. It is so good that everyone is in awe. She doesn't brag but it certainly does wonders for her self-esteem.
During the visit in Houston, she has to deal with what she perceives as normal. Her uncle has a great job. Her aunt is perfect (and wants everything to be perfect). One cousin is a "genius" and her other cousin is so beautiful. Things aren't always as perfect as they seem and everyone has their own troubles. What is normal? Does Mieka really want to be normal? Or is Mieka always comparing herself to everyone else? Girls of the ages ten to twelve will get the most out of this book of growing up and not always having to fit into every situation.