Rummanah Aasi
 I always seem to root for the underdog or the person who fights for his/her beliefs against the establishment. It is this thought that lead me to read J.J. Johnson's debut YA novel called This Girl is Different. Much thanks to Netgalley and Peachtree for allowing me to read an advanced reader's copy of the book in order to provide you with an honest review.

Description: Evensong Sparkling Morningdew has always been home schooled by her hippie mother. Interested in knowing what "real' high experiences are, Evie has decided to spend her senior year at the local public high school. Unafraid of speaking her mind, Evie seems to always get in trouble and is constantly challenged about her own beliefs about friendship, authority, and love. Will Evie survive her senior year of high school?

Review: I have hard time describing This Girl is Different. The closest thing I can describe it to is Legally Blonde without the blonde ditz but replaced with a brunette with hippie roots. The book isn't bad but I found it a bit too after school specialish.
   Evensong, commonly known as Evie, is an extremely intelligent and witty girl. She has been home schooled by her hippie mother almost her whole life. With aspirations of going to Cornell and majoring in social justice, Evie wants to experience high school a la John Hughes 1980s movies. After a hiking incident, she meets two of her school's most popular students, the very hot Rajas and his cousin Jacinda, whom she quickly befriends. As school starts and Evie begins to find her niche, she quickly learns the frustrating limits of high-school life and takes up the mantle of student rights, free speech, and equality. Unfortunately, no one takes Evie seriously. Sticking to her firm beliefs of equal rights, she creates a blog in her efforts to keep teachers in check and some strategically placed cardboard lightning bolts that will get the discussion started, expect everything doesn't go as planned and her admission to Cornell is in jeopardy.
  I liked some aspects of the book, in particular Evie's determination and spunk to stand up for herself and to the authority. While some of her antics such as a publicized blog may have gone too far, I do believe she had the right idea and intention. I was also very happy to find Indian American characters who are the main cast of characters instead of being in the background and who aren't stereotypically portrayed. Jacinda is the head cheerleader and who also desires to go to Cornell. Rajas, on the other hand, is not interested in school but rather taking up an apprenticeship that will showcase his art. There is a sweet romance between Rajas and Evie, but I didn't think it added much to the story.  

  Despite the fun characters, I thought there were too many issues brought up in the book and none of them are really explored or dealt with in a satisfying way. For instance, there is an inappropriate teacher-student relationship that no one besides Evie seems to be care about. Even when the issues were solved, I had to suspend my disbelief in believing it was plausible. I like the author's approach in making young readers think about authority, established rules, but I didn't think it was serious enough. 

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is a couple of heated make-out scenes that lead up to second base. There is also some language. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Schooled by Gordon Korman or The Latte Rebellion by Jamila Stevenson
1 Response
  1. You write really nice, well-detailed reviews! Sounds like there might be too many thing going on here, but it's really nice to see that Indian-American characters were up front and shining. I like it when characters are presented in a 'whole' way rather than a 'token' way as well.

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