- Title: A Shot at Normal
- Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
- Estimated Publication Date: Feb. 16, 2020
- Reading level: YA
- Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Juniper Jade live does not necessarily look like every other teenager’s. For instance, her classroom is her kitchen table. Her classmates are her little brother and sister. Her teacher is her Dad. She can remember having had one friend outside her family, and with a recent move that number is down to zero. She dreams of attending the public school that she gazes at across the street from her house. Maybe making a new friend or meeting a cute boy. Her parents say no. She disagrees. Eventually their arguments begin to involved something much more serious.
Juniper’s parents have specific goals in how they want to raise their children, one of those being limiting exposure to “big Pharma”. That means that Juniper and her siblings have never been vaccinated. One day, she starts to feel sick, is running a fever, and her illness keeps getting worse and worse. Turns out that Juniper has the measles, and the ramifications of her contracting this illness have some devastating consequences.
This read had me torn. The concept is great, interesting, and something that will generate important conversation. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question for many parents today. This novel suggests who choosing not to vaccinate may look like for the parent’s baby when they become a teenager. Juniper is at an age where she is trying to self identify and she doesn’t feel that her parent’s choices are measuring up. She is lacking independence, and now, she sees the problem as deadly.
My issue with the book is that it was a bit one-sided. To the point her parents are nearly made out to be villains, or kooks. I think the debate could have used a little more finessing in the narrative. Still, I would recommend the book. Especially, with the timeliness of this Covid world.