22 February 2011

Book Review: This Girl is Different

Title: This Girl is Different
Author: JJ Johnson
Publisher/Year: Peachtree / 2011
Date Finished:  15 February 2011
Source/Format: NetGalley / eBook

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: TwentyEleven Challenge,

Summary from GoodReads
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.

A Bit of a Ramble

The main plot line of the book revolves around Evie's - sort of self-indulgent - protestation against the authority imposed in public school systems. Evie organizes an anonymous protest of the abuse inflicted by one teacher upon a student - specifically, the teacher commented on a student's weight. To call attention to the inequality in the school, Evie (or another student) place a lightning bolt on the recipient's locker/door, and then write up a blog post about the person/incident.

This protestation snowballs with some "deserving" recipients of the lightning strike and subsequently less "deserving" recipients. While I applaud Evie's dedication to equality and fairness, I found myself sympathizing more with the principal than with Evie. Evie's reminders that she is different - This Girl is Different - combined with her anonymous activism seemed rather self-aggrandizing and immature. The principal, on the other hand, seemed a voice of reason, supporting the sentiment but not the means. I. Am. Such. An. Adult.

That is what I was reminded of throughout the book. I am an adult. I can no longer sympathize with the emotion-based sort of activism portrayed in the book. While some romanticize themselves, believing they would be the drug-imbibing, flowery-skirt-wearing, peace out hippies in the 60s, I just know I would be an ACLU lawyer. I think logic changes the world more substantively than emotion. And so, I find Evie's hippie mother frustrating, Evie herself self-important, and the school a bit over-the-top in its collection of totalitarian and unsympathetic teachers.

While reading the above paragraphs may suggest I did not like the book, that is not the case. I read the entirety in one plane ride and the story kept my attention all the way through. I may have felt removed from the story, but I still appreciated what it was trying to do, the message it was trying to communicate.

10 comments:

  1. I think I'd feel much the same way as you.

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  2. I had a plethora of teachers in high school who engaged in various bad behaviors, but the only one I'd ever have wanted to publicly humiliate would be the creepy creepy math teacher who gave alcohol (among other things) to senior girls.

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  3. Love the cover on this book, but I think I'd probably be on the same page with you in your opinion about the story.

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  4. I agree with your take on this one. I also feel like I have too much of an adult mindset to appreciate the kinds of things that Evie is doing and going through in this book. Your review was clear and interesting, and I thank you for it!

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  5. Favorite line of the review = " While some romanticize themselves, believing they would be the drug-imbibing, flowery-skirt-wearing, peace out hippies in the 60s, I just know I would be an ACLU lawyer."

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  6. I haven't read the book, but the title reminds me of something that a teacher said a few weeks ago: "People who call themselves "different" rarely mean it as a bad thing. What they mean by "I'm different," is "I'm better."" Very true, and it sounds like that's the case in the book as well.

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  7. It always freaks me out when I realize I really am an adult. I love the cover of this one.

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  8. I think that is my hesitation with YA - I think I will have trouble relating to the trials and tribulations of a teenager. But I am optimistic that it will remind me of my younger self and make me feel a little less adult for a while!

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  9. I don't always like to realize I am an adult. Glad you saw this to the end. Good review.

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