The Difference Between You and Me

( 4 )

Overview

"Sweet, tender, and true!" - Laurie Halse Anderson

Jesse cuts her own hair with a Swiss Army knife. She wears big green fisherman's boots. She's the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. Emily wears sweaters with faux pearl buttons. She's vice president of the student council. She has a boyfriend.

These two girls have nothing in common, except the passionate "private time" they share every Tuesday afternoon. Jesse wishes their ...

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Overview

"Sweet, tender, and true!" - Laurie Halse Anderson

Jesse cuts her own hair with a Swiss Army knife. She wears big green fisherman's boots. She's the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. Emily wears sweaters with faux pearl buttons. She's vice president of the student council. She has a boyfriend.

These two girls have nothing in common, except the passionate "private time" they share every Tuesday afternoon. Jesse wishes their relationship could be out in the open, but Emily feels she has too much to lose. When they find themselves on opposite sides of a heated school conflict, they each have to decide what's more important: what you believe in, or the one you love?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It doesn’t make sense that radical 15-year-old Jesse—who plasters her high school’s walls with “Normalcy is Death” manifestoes—could be smitten with buttoned-up student council v-p Emily. It makes even less sense that Emily, who has a steady boyfriend, has reciprocal feelings for outspoken Jesse. But when the two girls meet in secret, all reason flies out the window (“Kissing Emily is literally the best thing Jesse has ever done. In her life. There is no feeling more right or perfect”). In a frank and funny account of opposites attracting, George (Looks) provides remarkable insight into teenage romance, alternating between the girls’ perspectives as she conveys their uncertainties and traces their growing political awareness. When Emily and Jesse end up on opposite sides of a heated battle to keep big business out of the community, Emily manages to keep her conflicting interests compartmentalized, but the pressure is getting to Jesse. Rather than offering easy answers about love, lust, and politics, George recognizes teenage vulnerabilities and promotes taking a stand. Strong, empathetic characterizations and whip-smart writing make this a seriously enjoyable read. Ages 12–up. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (Mar.)
VOYA - Kelly Czarnecki
Jesse is on a mission to fill her school with messages that range from demanding the right to wear whatever clothes people want when they want to wear them to opposing NorthStar, an evil corporation that owns StarMart, who is going to sponsor the school dance. Sporadic interactions with Jesse and her parents throughout the story add humor and paint an understandable picture as to why their daughter designs campaigns to fight for what she feels strongly about. Things get tricky with Jesse's latest crusade. Emily Miller, student council president, is heading up the partnership for sponsoring the dance. Emily and Jesse secretly meet on the third floor of the public library in the handicapped restroom to kiss. Every Tuesday. ". . . when Jesse knocks the secret knock (knock knock, pause, knock knock, pause, knock), Emily opens the door a crack, grasps Jesse's hand, and pulls her inside." Because of their relationship, this sponsorship-school dance dilemma may not be easily solved. A cast of characters—from Jesse's partner-in-crime, Esther, to her close friend, Wyatt, and the "iron marshmallow" student dean, Ms. Snediker—keep the story moving along at the right pace. Teens unsure about being attracted to people of the same sex will likely find the issues Jesse faces, including opening up to her mother, a mirror of their own struggles. Reviewer: Kelly Czarnecki
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Jesse is a defiantly gender-deviant lesbian, who blankets the halls of her high school with a manifesto demanding "JUSTICE NOW for All Weirdos, Freaks, Queer Kids, Revolutionaries, Nerds, Dweebs, Misfits, Loudmouths, Rapunzels Trapped in the Their Towers, Trolls Trapped under Their Bridges," and anyone else she deems oppressed. Unfortunately, Jesse has fallen in love with Emily, who is not only part of the high school power structure, but an intern for predatory retail giant StarMart, which through Emily's initiative is now going to be the corporate sponsor for the school dance. The two girls have nothing in common, except for the feelings they share during secret weekly hookup sessions. Told in alternating point-of view chapters, George places Jesse and Emily on a riveting path toward wrenching confrontation, while also believably creating an intense, erotic connection. While George's own sympathies are clearly with those who resist all forms of oppression, she pokes affectionate fun at Jesse's politically correct parents and lefties busy organizing "teach-ins" for various causes: "a bunch of already-angry people in a room trying to convince each other to be even angrier." Emily's first-person narration brilliantly captures her self-righteousness and self-deception: "With me, it's all about the person. I don't believe in labels," she says, before proceeding to list all the "diverse" people she is big enough to befriend. Both hilarious and heart-piercing, George's stunning novel leads readers to see that "Every tiny step in the right direction makes the world a tiny bit better." Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
ALAN Review - Courtney R. Morgan
Jesse is a fisherman-boot-wearing, self- proclaimed weirdo that fights for what she believes in. Emily is the J Crew-clad student council vice-president that always has a plan for everything, including her future. Both girls are harboring their secret relationship while carrying out their normal lives. When an issue comes up that divides the entire town and puts these girls on opposite sides, will they learn to compromise in order to maintain a relationship? Madeline George spins an entertaining story that tells of two girls trying to find their way in the world of high school and in the world of relationships. The story of Jesse and Emily does a great job of demonstrating the importance of learning to decide what things in life are worth fighting for. Reviewer: Courtney R. Morgan
Kirkus Reviews
A novel with alternating narrators takes an unusually interesting twist due to one of the character's habitual tendency toward self-delusion. Self-proclaimed misfit and outspoken manifesto-author Jesse deals daily with the hazards of being out and proud in high school. She's also carrying on a secret affair with image-conscious Emily, the girlfriend of a popular boy at school. Meeting weekly in the bathroom of the local public library, the two experience an inexplicable chemistry, even though Emily will barely acknowledge Jesse at any other time. Switching perspective among Emily, Jesse and a third girl, Esther, this heartbreaking tale is powerfully raw in its exploration of attraction and shame. Jesse hides her relationship from her warmly quirky and accepting parents not because it is with a girl, but because she knows they will disapprove of its secrecy. Readers will ache for her, and they will be torn between rage and pity toward Emily, so intent on forcing herself into a normative role that she cannot admit the truth even to herself. Clever phrasing, a decided political bent against big-box stores and characters who gently poke fun at various stereotypes round out this work of contemporary fiction. While in the end there are some plot lines left untied in slice-of-life fashion, the bittersweet resolution of the main conflict is deeply satisfying. (Fiction. 13 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Jesse and Emily make an unlikely couple. Emily is vice president of the student council, filled with school spirit, and has been dating her boyfriend since the eighth grade. Jesse is the daughter of liberal, political activists and has been out of the closet since she was 14. In spite of their wildly different social circles, the two girls find themselves embroiled in a passionate affair that takes place every Tuesday in the bathroom in the public library. Jesse feels ashamed, like a "bad queer," because of her willingness to keep their love secret, but Emily will only consent to staying involved if no one knows. When a huge corporation tries to move into town, using sponsorship of high school events as an inroad, Jesse and Emily find that they are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, which only accentuates the gulf that exists between them. The novel is told from alternating perspectives, with a third character, Esther, entering the mix after Jesse meets her in detention. Esther is an activist herself, whose admiration of Joan of Arc motivates her to spend her time on the worthiest of causes regardless of how she is seen by others. As she and Jesse become friends, Jesse begins to see that her relationship with Emily may not be the healthiest. The characters are vivid, there are some very funny scenes, and the desire Jesse and Emily feel for each other jumps off the page, transforming mere minutes of stolen time into lingering daydreams of young love. Readers of Julie Ann Peters, Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Zarr, and Sarah Dessen will welcome this addition to collections of realistic fiction.—Nora G. Murphy, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, La Canada-Flintridge, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670011285
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/15/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 297,003
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Madeleine George is an award-winning playwright and a founding member of the playwriting collective 13P. She is also the director of the Bard College satellite campus at Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility in Manhattan. Ms. George lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    I wanted to like this more

    I'm torn about this book. There were certain sections I thought were perfectly done whereas others I found dull.

    The story is told primarily from the point of view of Jesse, an out and proud, opinionated teenage girl who spends her time creating manifestos for kids on the outskirts. Interspersed throughout are chapters from the point of view of Emily, the pretty, popular, student council vice president whom Jesse spends Tuesday afternoons secretly making out with. The conflict comes when Jesse's mission clashes with Emily's.

    The characters came off as a bit stereotyped and one dimensional, especially Emily. The background characters did not serve much of a purpose to the story.

    I did enjoy the fact that there was a plot and this was not just a story about a relationship. I also felt that Jesse's experience with a closeted girl was very true to life and their relationship was realistic (and at times heartbreaking).

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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