Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This Girl is Different by JJ Johnson

This girl is different… That’s what Evie has always told herself and it s true. Home-schooled by her counter culture mom, she’s decided to see what high school is like for the first time for her senior year. And what a year it is.
As it turns out, it’s not just Evie who’s Different. Lots of people are. Many of her assumptions about others are turned on their heads as she makes friends with kids her own age for the first time, discovers what’s good and what’s bad about high school, and learns lessons about power and its abuse both by the administration and by Evie herself.

Evie meets Rajas and Jacinda while out hiking in the forest. She had a sprained ankle and was waiting around for her mother, whom she refers to as Martha, to figure out she’s missing and pick her up.

You never find out what Rajas and Jacinda were doing in the forest, as a matter of fact, you never visit the scene again. However, do you do learn - from Evie’s first person present narrative - that they both go to the high school that she has enrolled in for her senior year.

The books details the clash of cultures as a homeschooler joins the public school system and sees first hand what public school and peer interaction is like. It details her interaction with her teachers and her clashes with authority - something she seems unaccustomed to since Martha, though her mother, is a bit of a free spirit, and while a fun character to read, she’s not much of an authority figure in Evie’s life than a friend. It raises questions on what happens when personal freedom impinges on the freedoms of another, and there is no responsibility for one’s action.

Evie soon finds out that being a part of something is different than reading or hearing about it, that experience can change perspective. Even though I found the initialization of the conflict to be sudden and a little out of character, I found the story to be a quick and easy read, leaving room for some great discussion points on rights and responsibility.

[review of arc via netgalley]

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