The Different Girl

The Different Girl

2.9 13
by Gordon Dahlquist
     
 

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Veronika. Caroline. Isobel. Eleanor. One blond, one brunette, one redhead, one with hair black as tar. Four otherwise identical girls who spend their days in sync, tasked to learn. But when May, a very different kind of girl—the lone survivor of a recent shipwreck—suddenly and mysteriously arrives on the island, an unsettling mirror is about to be held

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Overview

Veronika. Caroline. Isobel. Eleanor. One blond, one brunette, one redhead, one with hair black as tar. Four otherwise identical girls who spend their days in sync, tasked to learn. But when May, a very different kind of girl—the lone survivor of a recent shipwreck—suddenly and mysteriously arrives on the island, an unsettling mirror is about to be held up to the life the girls have never before questioned.

Sly and unsettling, Gordon Dahlquist’s timeless and evocative storytelling blurs the lines between contemporary and sci-fi with a story that is sure to linger in readers’ minds long after the final page has been turned.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Veronika’s simple, sometimes profound first-person narration explores the nature of identity and what it means to be human in an oddly touching story of a future world." - The Horn Book

"...[an] unusal and enigmatic science-fiction outing...Most intriguing." - Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Greta Holt
Veronika lives on an island. Each day, she and her three sisters walk the island and observe details of nature. The girls are tutored by two adults: Irene who is kind and Robbert who seems worried and a bit irascible. Veronika, Caroline, Isobel and Eleanor look alike, except for their hair color. Each has a strength. Veronika's is that she may at times be able to think independently. Caroline dreams. Each day is like the last, and the girls do not seem to mind, even allowing Irene to put them to sleep each night by touching a button on their heads. The two main rules are to learn and to refrain from walking into the ocean. Unexpectedly, an outsider, May, washes up on the shore of the island, the victim of a shipwreck. Irene and Robbert help the girl, but they seem distressed at the intrusion of the outside world. Dahlquist creates a sterile world, in which four "girls" strive to grow in knowledge and in talent. The outside world is viewed with suspicion. The author seems to have desired to tell this exact story, accepting that action would be subjugated to being inside the character Veronika's head. Veronika only knows what she and her sisters have been taught slowly (very slowly,) the physical composition of the island and how to pay attention to small things, which may lead to larger comprehensions. In this dystopian story, science is acclaimed, and the religious right vilified. Unfortunately, not enough answers are provided for the interesting questions that Dahlquist sets up. What will the future be if scientists are again persecuted? What will the world be like if humanity steps back from its technological accomplishments? Can artificial intelligence reach human emotional heights? Reviewer: Greta Holt
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—With The Different Girl, Dahlquist presents a cryptic vision of the future through the eyes of artificial intelligence. Life has always been the same for four teens. The girls study their island with the help of their teachers. Each day is the same: walking and talking and building upon the things they learned in the days before until it is time for the teachers to put them to sleep. But when May arrives, life begins to change at a frightening pace. The narrator, Veronika, knows only what her teachers tell her and what she is able to observe. Readers must rely heavily on imagination and inference to puzzle out the circumstances of the world beyond the island and the extreme secrecy that seems to surround the four robotic girls and their handlers. Fans of science fiction and dystopian societies will find plenty to pique their interest, but little to satisfy their questions.—Sara Saxton, Tuzzy Consortium Library, Barrow, AK
Kirkus Reviews
Four nearly identical girls living with their teachers on a tropical island have difficulty getting along with a new girl who seems different from them in this unusual and enigmatic science-fiction outing. Written entirely from the point of view of one of the island girls, Veronika, the simple prose slowly reveals who--or what--the girls might be. At first glance, the only difference appears to be hair color, but each turns out to have a different focus. They spend their days learning in their classroom from adults Robbert and Irene and taking observational walks. The girls look closely at everything they see, describing it all when they return. Robbert strives to hide the girls from any outside eyes and makes sure they don't get wet. Things go awry when Veronika discovers May washed up on the beach, apparently the survivor of a shipwreck. Once she recovers from her injuries, May rejects the four girls and flees, but when an outside danger intrudes, it's May who steps up to save them. Dahlquist trusts his audience to notice his sparse but clear clues in order to decipher the true differences between May and the four island girls, and astute readers will have little difficulty with his scenario. The author never reveals why the girls are hidden away and what their purpose might be, leaving that to readers' imaginations. Most intriguing. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142423653
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/06/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
740,925
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for The Different Girl

"Simple, sometimes profound first-person narration explores the nature of identity and what it means to be human in an oddly touching story of a future world."—The Horn Book

"[An] unusual and enigmatic science-fiction outing . . . Most intriguing."—Kirkus Reviews

"Recommend this book to girls who like the process of self-discovery."—VOYA

Meet the Author

Gordon Dahlquist is a graduate of Reed College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He worked for several years writing and directing plays, including Messalina (Evidence Room, Los Angeles: SPF, New York), and Delirium Palace (Evidence Room, Los Angeles; published in Breaking Ground), both of which received a Garland Playwriting Award.

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