10 January 2012

This Girl is Different by J. J. Johnson

"This girl is different" is Evie's personal mantra.  She's been homeschooled her whole life, opting now - beginning her senior year - to enroll in a public high school.  She lives in a sustainable home, complete with chickens, a cow, and solar energy.  She doesn't know who her dad is, but it's totally fine; her mom is practically every bit as "hippy" now as she was when Evie was conceived.  Her real full name is Evensong Sparkling Morningdew.  She's different alright.

She meets and makes friends - her first! - with cousins Jacinda and Rajas just days before school starts, and with their help she tries to navigate her way through the hallways, the social customs, and the political hypocrisy that is their high school.  She verbally spars with the teachers, she actively participates in classroom discussion to her classmates' dismay, and she ultimately can't find her footing in the peer social structure that is seemingly established from public-school-birth.  But she refuses to give up.  She wants to make public high school a better place to learn, interact, and build, and she will not back down.  Even when the bad starts to outweigh the good. There are a lot of details in this novel -- some of which add to, and others that distract from, the whole vibe of the story (including an inappropriate student-teacher relationship) -- but everything ties together in the end to offer a clear picture of Evie's perspective on a world that isn't too big to come crashing down . . .

Recommended to all ages, mostly, though the student-teacher relationship and some sex talk might limit the audience.  Especially recommended to students who might not fit into the stereotypical high school box.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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