This Girl Is Different

This Girl Is Different

3.8 12
by J.J. Johnson

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having inherited rabble-rousing genes from her ultra-liberal mother, homeschooled Evensong Sparkling Morningdew, who would rather be called Evie "for obvious reasons," isn't about to be a passive student when she tries out public school during her senior year. She is shocked by the institution's conditions—"disgusting" bathrooms, no sunlight, and Styrofoam dishes in the cafeteria—and appalled by the faculty's abuse of power. When her objections are ignored, she and two friends create a blog to encourage other students to speak up about injustices. The blog creates a stir, and as Evie's peers jump on the bandwagon to point fingers of blame, feelings are hurt, and friendships and even teachers' jobs are threatened. Offering a thorough examination of the pitfalls of protest and revolution in terms teens will understand, this smart first novel will likely spark discussions about authority abuse and crossing boundaries. Rather than judging Evie's methods of precipitating change, Johnson reveals a broad spectrum of perspectives through her characters' differing sentiments, motivations, and opinions. Authority figures, who Evie initially despises, make astute points throughout the novel. Ages 12–16. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Add a few years to Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (Knopf, 2000), remove the mystical aura, plop her in northern New York state, shore up her liberal credentials (e.g., with a build-your-own geodesic dome home), mix in a healthy dose of self-righteousness, a dash of cynicism, a libido, and a hot South Asian boyfriend who is "a crunchier, leaner version of Kumar from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"...and voilà! Meet Evie. As a homeschooler entering senior year in the arena of a public high school, this stridently independent protagonist starts an anonymous blog to shed light on injustice, from the cheer squad coach who takes body image to the extreme to the teacher who may—or may not—be having an affair with a student. The ensuing chaos mixes with romantic comedy to culminate in a melodramatic resolution reminiscent of certain '80s John Hughes flicks, but Evie does undergo a degree of character reform through the process. Most of the figures surrounding this stubborn narrator lack depth, Evie's histrionics can be over-the-top, the writing is uneven, and sometimes noncontextualized pop-culture quotes jump out discordantly. Because of the novel's incorporation of First Amendment issues in this era of Web 2.0, it is worth most high schools' second tier of purchases.—Rhona Campbell, formerly at Washington, DC Public Library
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Not only is this girl different, but the book is different, too. The girl, Evie, has been home-schooled by her politically/socially radical mother, Martha. She's ready for her senior year in high school, and she has decided that she really needs the experience of enrolling in a public high school. She may need it, but is she really prepared for it? Academically, she is thoroughly prepared—Martha has made sure of that. So what doesn't she have? Friends her own age? She has never even met any of the kids in town! But that situation is taken care of on the first page, when she tries to pick up a snake—yes, a snake—twists her ankle, and realizes that she hasn't charged her cell phone. "No freak-outs, no worries!" she says. Martha has packed some trail mix, an Ace bandage, and some ibuprofen into her backpack. At least she won't starve. So Evie passes some time sketching the snake, and finally she hears voices. They belong to two teenagers who seem surprised to see someone so young so far from the town—"you came out this far alone?" asks the girl. "She says it like it is unimaginable, like, you just flew back from the moon?" They finally get themselves introduced, and Rajas and Jacinda, both seniors in high school, come to Evie's rescue. By the end of the day, they are friends. So what does the school year hold for them all? How can they become close friends? Jacinda is, after all, the head of the cheerleading squad! Evie has opinions about cheerleaders, of course, and her feelings about oppression and discrimination are never withheld. Martha's opinion about the Institution of School won't change, and to an adult reader, it seems as if nothing has changed in nearly 50 years. Reputations may suffer. Evie may be the school's nemesis. Certain teachers may lose their jobs. And you may not be able to stop reading this book! Recommended. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
Kirkus Reviews

Despite warnings from her hippie mom (who stealthily places peace stickers on toy guns at Wal-Mart), Evie's eager to give up homeschooling at their sustainable home in upstate New York to spend her senior year at the "Institution of School." Outspoken Evie, with a voice so endearing and provocative that it will make readers pause often to think, quickly discovers in this witty debut that high school is full of biased rules, abuses of power and a lack of civil liberties. Only her newfound friend, popular, Indian-American cheerleader Jacinda, and her gorgeous cousin, Rajas, make the endeavor tolerable. Normally self-confident and eschewing labels, Evie can't explain why she wants to define her first love, which can leave her vulnerable and insecure. After the cheerleading coach humiliates a member for her weight, the trio sets up a blog for the People's Lightning to Undermine True Oppression (PLUTO) with a manifesto for social justice and mounts a lightning bolt to the coach's door. Their friendship suffers, and the school turns to chaos, however, when Jacinda's inappropriate relationship with a teacher is outed and students use PLUTO to air personal grievances. Learning firsthand how difficult it is to lead a revolution, Evie wonders if she's up to the challenge or if she's just the freak everyone calls her. Readers will never look at high school—or life—the same.(Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.30(d)
HL530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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This Girl Is Different 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
ReadergirlReviews More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting book in that it was different than most things I read. Evie was a character in more ways than one. She is one of those people that really doesn't care what others think of her, and she thinks of herself as "This girl is different." Seeing what her upbringing was like with an eccentric but awesomely sweet and funny mother was so interesting. I loved the fact that Evie was so smart and self-assured. This is unusual in a character of this age. Not that teens can't be intelligent...but Evie is a step beyond mere intelligence. Her main focus is to cultivate change in places where she sees a need. This is noble, but can backfire, which it does for Evie. Witnessing the places where her good intentions go had me both cheering her on, but also wincing for her as things didn't always work out as expected. Her relationship with Rajas was sweet, and her growing closeness to him had the flavor of that electrifying first love. It was also refreshing though to watch a teen girl stand up for herself in a relationship and demand respect as she does with Rajas. What she does to set things right takes amazing courage. This only makes you like her more. This was a smart, interesting, and entertaining debut from JJ Johnson. Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more from this author in future.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
This Girl is Different is a quick but powerful book. Evie, the main character stands up for what she believes in and as the title suggests, she is different and okay with it. I also like that she can admit when she's wrong, even if it takes a bit to get her to see that. Rajas, the love interest is really complex, and I really like him. He's interesting, has smart things to say, and he is sweet and supportive most of the time. But there are times when I just want him to grow up and get over himself, but it is a very realistic view of teenage boys, and I appreciate that. This is a very character driven novel, and I really like how Jacinda and Evie both defy expectation in their own ways. I appreciate that Evie's mom is active in this book, and she is involved in Evie's life. She is a very stand back Mom but she asks questions, makes Evie think and encourages her to make her own decisions. I really like how lightning is on the cover and the role it plays in the book alhtough I don't want to spoil anything. I recommend this one! It's a good read.
epicrat More than 1 year ago
This Girl Is Different is not for the weak-minded. A sharp contrast from books like The Lipstick Laws and Audrey, Wait!, but not quite as dark and troubled as Ballads Of Suburbia. This Girl Is Different is a quite precocious book that will surely inspire readers to be more aware of social justice, freedom of speech, and bullying. Not to mention all the interesting quotes that open each chapter spurred me on to see what happens next as Evie critically examines the school system and how it contrasts with the freedom that she enjoyed via home-schooling. She dives into the social circles, thankfully with the help of her new friends Jacinda and Rajas who seem to be in the more popular-but-nicer crowd. She gets frustrated with the unfair cell phone policy that favors students who can afford data plans on their phones, but can't answer your mom's call during the lunch hour when it's not disrupting class! While I didn't love Evie to death (she gives tough love), I did enjoy the message behind This Girl Is Different and it made me consider the difference between the structure of high school versus the freedom of college/real world. Constantly I can see the reasoning behind the school rules, but still I can see how startling it could be for Evie who was unused to the structure. How limiting it can be for one to express oneself (i.e. defend one's dignity), especially when a teacher oversteps their professional boundaries or goes beyond the definition of strict discipline. I wish there had been a little more good blogging before things spiraled out of control, but this is high school and drama travels explosively fast as Evie soon finds out! Kudos for J.J. Johnson on providing a diversity of authority figures - parents, teachers, principal, etc - who had different expectations for these high-schoolers and acted as both good and bad guys. This is also a story that may inspire educators to take a good look at their teaching attitude - I know that This Girl Is Different would have changed my whole perspective if I had pursued a teaching career!
LivingPeacefully More than 1 year ago
It isn't often that one finds a YA fiction novel where the main character has been homeschooled, let alone unschooled. This fact alone made me want to read J.J. Johnson's soon to be released book, This Girl is Different. Evie, an intelligent, well-read, thoughtful young woman who has unschooled throughout her life is set on attending Cornell to study social justice when she decides to experience what is her senior year at the local public school. There tend to be two main stereotypes of homeschooling families: the strict religious homeschoolers who are over-controlling and the flaky hippie homeschoolers, portrayed as neglegient. Unfortunately, Johnson chose to go the stereotype route. So while Evie's family situation has redeeming qualities such as living in an Earth dome, living a sustainable life, and living in a consensual manner, her mother is portayed as a communist hippie, unable or unwanting to sustain a job after getting pregnant while following a band around and leaving the drug-abusing sperm donor. It's disappointing that Evie decides to experience school, as though she is missing out with her real-life learning experiences. The school is protrayed realistically, though, with a totalitarian rule by adults without thought to equal rights, minus those teachers and administratos who are tied by bureacratical restraints. Evie takes the experience on as a challenge and stands for the rights of all. The constant repeats of texting and web usage were a bit annoying, but according to today's media, accurate of public schools today. I was also disappointed that such a strong, independent young woman immediately caved and focused on the first handsome guy she met, one whom had an issue with commitment. Evie's constant self reminders that "This girl is different" seemed out of place and self-important. Overall, the book was decent and I might suggest it to my children when they are older. At the least, it was a reminder to me that the world doesn't live in a consensual manner, and my family will continue on with our unschooling lifestyle. Disclaimer: A complimentray copy of the book was provided by Peachtree Publishers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Evie is funny, dedicated, and all around believable as a character. The story is fast paced and never drags, and the quotes at the beginning of each chapter that have to do with said chapter add a layer of depth to the story. I highly recommend it!
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
When we got this book from NetGalley, I immediately said I wanted to read it. First off, the cover is so creative. I love anything cartoonish and it has a different vibe. Considering the title as well, I was so interested on how "different" the girl is. I like people who are different, so I was really excited to read this. When I first started reading, it started off well. I liked the fact that Evie had different ways of thinking because she was home-schooled. On her senior year, she decides to go to school to experience the high school life. Things didn't turn out as she expected, so that's when things started to change. Evie met Rajas and his cousin, and they became friends. After Evie experienced many acts of injustice, that felt weird and unfair to her, which would feel totally normal to those who went to school all their lives, she had an idea. The book just continues on how Evie tries to get justice, and somethings get messed up. Her relationship with Rajas evolves and so on. I had high hopes for this book, but sadly, I was disappointed. I'm all about justice, so I really enjoyed that part, but other than that, it felt kind of boring. There were different ratings for this book. Some people loved it, while others didn't enjoy it as much. As much as I hoped I would be part of those who loved it, I didn't. Doesn't mean that you won't like it, so give it a try!
sailaway7289 More than 1 year ago
Goodreads describes the book as: Evie is different. Not just her upbringing-though that's certainly been unusual-but also her mindset. She's smart, independent, confident, opinionated, and ready to take on a new challenge: The Institution of School. It doesn't take this homeschooled kid long to discover that high school is a whole new world, and not in the way she expected. It's also a social minefield, and Evie finds herself confronting new problems at every turn, failing to follow or even understand the rules, and proposing solutions that aren't welcome or accepted. Not one to sit idly by, Evie sets out to make changes. Big changes. The movement she starts takes off, but before she realizes what's happening, her plan spirals out of control, forcing her to come to terms with a world she is only just beginning to comprehend. JJ Johnson's powerful debut novel will enthrall readers as it challenges assumptions about friendship, rules, boundaries, and power. I requested this book from Netgalley after reading the review of a friend. Before I get to my review, let me make clear that I am 48 years old whereas my friend is in her very early twenties. That difference in age may be a contributing factor for my take on the book vs hers. Good: Evie is a well thought out, seemingly well adjusted teenager who doesn't believe in the word "impossible" as she strives to make changes at the school and in people's lives. Her desires are always directed, sometimes misguided, at doing good for others - what she thinks is good. Because she was homeschooled, her interactions within the public school system were believable. Her romance with Raj seemed a bit grown-up to me but I don't remember what it was like to be a teenager in love so maybe not. The writing is excellent, the characters multi-dimensional, school descriptions and teachers seem pretty right on the money. I would have to say one thing about the book, which influences my final grade, is how it made me feel like I was back in high school - and I didn't like it much. Bad: Really can't think of anything bad to say about the book other than there were a few times I thought it was a little wordy. Teens would enjoy this book and the social consciousness it brings. All things considered, I give this book an A. I received this book from Netgalley to review. The only stipulation they put on reading an advance copy is that the review be done over the entire book. I am not required to write a good review. My review is my own.
l_manning More than 1 year ago
Evie is different in many ways. She's been raised to be a free-thinker. Her mother has home-schooled her, and they live in a self-sustaining home. This are going to change however, because Evie has decided to finish out her senior year in public high school. She quickly makes two friends, and it seems like things will go well. Evie soon finds her outspokenness is not so welcome. While trying to give other students a voice, Evie finds herself mixed up in something much bigger. She soon has to risk everything to try and set things right while staying true to herself. I found this to be a very fun book. I think it can be difficult to keep a character like Evie from being overbearing with her opinions, but the author did a good job. For the most part Evie was able to express her beliefs without being too oppressive with her opinions. You could tell that in the end Evie was really interested in the best thing for everyone. She wanted to make a difference in people's lives. Even though things may not have turned out exactly like Evie wanted, she had her heart in the right place. This makes her easy to like. The other characters were equally fun. Evie's mom was particularly wacky, but in a good way. This book was a super fast read, mostly because I was enjoying it so much. I would definitely recommend this book. Evie is not your typical YA heroine, but I think that's part of her appeal. She is in fact different, but in some really wonderful ways. Galley provided by publisher for review.
Shanella More than 1 year ago
Evie meets Rajas and Jacinda while out hiking in the forest. She had a sprained ankle and was waiting around for her mother, whom she refers to as Martha, to figure out she's missing and pick her up. You never find out what Rajas and Jacinda were doing in the forest, as a matter of fact, you never visit the scene again. However, do you do learn - from Evie's first person present narrative - that they both go to the high school that she has enrolled in for her senior year. The books details the clash of cultures as a homeschooler joins the public school system and sees first hand what public school and peer interaction is like. It details her interaction with her teachers and her clashes with authority - something she seems unaccustomed to since Martha, though her mother, is a bit of a free spirit, and while a fun character to read, she's not much of an authority figure in Evie's life than a friend. It raises questions on what happens when personal freedom impinges on the freedoms of another, and there is no responsibility for one's action. Evie soon finds out that being a part of something is different than reading or hearing about it, that experience can change perspective. Even though I found the initialization of the conflict to be sudden and a little out of character, I found the story to be a quick and easy read, leaving room for some great discussion points on rights and responsibility. [review of arc via netgalley]
iLuvReadingTooMuch More than 1 year ago
This is such a difficult book to review! I'm sitting here and thinking, because this is one of those books. The ones with profound meaning to them, which are really powerful and are so different (like the title!) and unique from books found today. It really looks at the discrimination and stereotypes of high schools today. We can see how the "norm" differentiates from other people who are different. We can see the problems with bullying, racism and judgement of people. I really do think that this book is suited for adults as well with all the philosophy and quotes and thoughts going through our main character, Evie's head. Evie's character is truly one I've never seen before. Definitely "different" but a good different! She's headstrong, strongly opinionated, free minded and doesn't care about who's who and what's right and what's social incorrect. She does what she wants and stands up for herself. I seriously wish I could be like her. She's just such a strong character with assertiveness that makes me jealous. Her ideas and theories are so insightful (I must admit, it was pretty educating to read this book!) that they just kinda go click click click in your head, making connections, understanding what she's trying to get across and of course, the powerful message she's trying to make across to the administration and students. However, things don't go as planned. As Evie suddenly becomes regarded as a freak, people start to treat her differently. Teachers start to treat her differently. Her best friend and boyfriend suddenly act kinda different around her as well! I think this is really important for High School learning, as it touches the subject of bullying and cliques. Speaking of best friend and boyfriend, I really love Raj and Jacinda's characters. They're just so different from "typical" best friends put into books. First off, they're Indian! (respect to my fellow Indians :P). I really love how Evie describes them when she first sees them. I remember her saying that Raj looked like "Kumar from Harold and Kumar" and Jacinda was beautiful like Audrey Hepburn. It's just those allusions which make it more interesting to understand the characters and Evie's surroundings, and even make a connection! I LOOVVEE Evie's mom, Martha! She's amazingly understanding of Evie's choices (although the schooling thing she can do without), she allows Evie to have her freedom and when she asks for help, Martha always has some sort of solution. Her reference to "the man" is hilarious, and every little phrase really adds up to her character. Love the Geo-dome as well. Almost makes me want to move into one! The tone of the book drastically changes at one point. It becomes cold and the atmosphere really does change. Everyone becomes cold and unfriendly, and Evie really starts to feel the effect and "downfall" of loneliness and being shunned by her "best friend" and her boyfriend. It's really quite sad at this part and I felt really down when reading this :(. But I found as the book came to the end, it was a satisfying conclusion, with hope for the future and people standing up for what's right. Justice shone through at the end. Overall, I would say that if you wanted something different and unique from what other books are talking about these days, something a little more "realistic" than realistic fiction, go ahead and pick this up- you will not be disappointed.
ChelseaW More than 1 year ago
From the very first moment Evie meets Rajas and Jacinda, their friendship is easy and natural. She finds a fast friendship in Jacinda and is instantly attracted to Rajas. Or so she thought, anyway. When Evie starts her Senior year at the same public school, things spin quickly out of control. Evie is outraged at the injustice students have to endure in their public education and speaks out against it, all with Jacinda and Rajas help. Her plan goes well and soon takes on a life of it's own. But Evie quickly learns to be careful what she wishes for, as lightning can strike anywhere. This book was all right. There were lots of things I liked about it, including the fact that Evie was a seriously tough and courageous girl. She's boyish and outdoorsy, but also maintains her girlish side, the one that loves her best friend and is interested in kissing cute boys. I also really liked the quotes at the beginning of the chapters. Often times quotes like these can be cheesy and overlooked, but Johnson chose wisely and I found myself taking a moment to revel in the quotes before moving on. Johnson has an easy writing style and gives Evie a very upfront voice. There is no flowery language, no superfluous descriptions. On the other hand, however, I sometimes thought Evie was entirely too smart for her age and experience. She is almost annoyingly set on knowing she is right. At times, her actions felt a little far-fetched. If readers can get past that, there are plenty of current pop-culture references to keep the book in the present. And of course, a fantastic happy ending.
RebeccaNaomi More than 1 year ago
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. ~*~*~*~*~*~ The main theme of this book was: This girl is different. It was a no brainer to say that. I felt that Evie repeated that saying too much. When I first read this book I immediately thought of Star Girl but in the point of view of Stargirl. Evie was nothing like her. At all. The book starts with Evie drawing a snake that she caught. The only problem is that while she saw hunting for the snake she had twisted her ankle which is where her only friends in the novel come in. Rajas and Jacinda find her by the creek and they just happen to be going to the same high school as she will. It turns out that she is an ex-home schooled teenager whose mother only allowed her to go because she said that she was going to shake things up. In her head the real reason that she wanted to go to high school for her senior year was because she wanted to be able to experience something new. The farther I read in the book the more I thought that she did not want to experience high school so much as she wanted to right the wrongs that she saw in all of the 80s movies that she watched that happened to be set in a high school setting. She already had her opinions about high school made and only wanted validation for her beliefs. She was annoying and while she could recite amendments from the bill of rights she obviously did not know that there have been many court cases for search and seizures in school and it has been deemed legal. It is for teachers and student protection. Personally while I would not like to be searched I know that some people do need that to be available. Why do I believe this? Because in my senior year of high school a crazy kid brought knife to school and pulled it out during lunch. Of course if the staff wanted better reaction time they should have probably told the students this. She also complains about the bathrooms a lot and how they have smoke filled, dirt traps. Well no one can say that it is not the students fault. Maybe if no one smoked in the bathroom they would not looked smoked in. I have been to three different high schools and the way high school is portrayed seemed outdated and wrong. I think that it is obvious that Evie was my least favorite character. Sadly I did not have a favorite character in this book. Although it was almost Jacinda until she did something that I felt was just plain gross. I am sorry but this book was not something that I enjoyed.