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Klise, Kate. Far from Normal.

KLISE, Kate. Far from Normal. Scholastic, 256p. c2006. 0-439-79447-1. $16.99. J

The Harrisong family from Klise's previous novel, Deliver Us From Normal, returns with another wild adventure. They left the heartland of Illinois for the shores of Alabama and through protagonist Charles's love of writing end up defending themselves against a libel lawsuit brought about by Bargain Bonanza, Inc. Charles tells the story of his family's claim to fame and meteoric rise into popular culture. Through a seeming misunderstanding, the family finds themselves the "spokesfamily" for Bargain Bonanza, a cheap mega-superstore chain. On one hand it provides them with a fancy roof over their heads and all the Bonanza bucks they could want. But it also requires them to make commercials for the store giant, no matter how farfetched and humiliating, as when Charles films the commercial for the "Gotta Go" laxative. The family soon feels the constraints of having their lives defined by the marketing department of Bargain Bonanza. A movie of their lives proves to be one manipulation too many, but their contractual obligations are iron clad and Bargain Bonanza proves to be an Orwellian "big brother." It takes some creative planning and Oscarworthy acting on the part of the family to be released, legally and physically, from their lives in the spotlight.

Even though that part of the novel goes a bit over the top, the story is witty and clever even while the characters are innocent and clueless. In a world where commercialism rules, the Harrisongs remind readers what is really important--honesty, integrity and the loyalty of family. Janis Flint-Ferguson, Assoc. Prof., English, Gordon College, Wenham, MA

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.
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Author:Flint-Ferguson, Janis
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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