This Girl Is Different

This Girl Is Different

by J. J. Johnson


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This Girl Is Different by J. J. Johnson

What happens when a girl, homeschooled by her counterculture mother, decides to spend her senior year in public school? First friendship, first love—and first encounters with the complexities of authority and responsibility.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781561457007
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
Publication date: 04/01/2013
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 11 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt

This Girl Is Different

By J. J. Johnson

Peachtree Publishers

Copyright © 2011 J.J. Johnson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-2679-6


Life is a daring adventure or nothing. — Helen Keller, author and activist, 1880–1968

I manage to grab the snake, but not without twisting my foot and falling butt-first into the creek. When I stand, lightning shoots through my ankle.

I take a long, deep yoga breath, an Ujjayi ocean breath, to be calm. Steady. Strong. Hopping on one foot, I hold the wriggling snake and scramble over to a large rock. As I unshoulder my backpack, the snake flicks its tongue at me. It must think I'm crazy.

I can think of worse things. Better crazy than mild. Or timid, or meek, or boring.

From my backpack, I pull out the mason jar I brought for snake containment. "Your temporary quarters." He slithers in, curls up at the bottom. After popping the ventilated lid on, I hold him up for a better look: velvety black, yellow lines running the length of his back. Garter snake, or ribbon? I sniff the jar. A bit skunky but not overwhelming. Probably ribbon. "Either way, you're a beauty." I set the container down.

Now, to call for help. I flip my cell phone open. It doesn't chime. Of course I forgot to charge it.

Lightning shoots through my ankle again when I shift weight. It's already getting puffy and it's throbbing. Gingerly, I lower my foot into the creek so the cool water can help the swelling.

The snake, nonplussed, watches me. I unzip my backpack and move aside my drawing journal, the tin of colored pencils, the jar of filtered water. Ah, here it is: an emergency kit, packed by Martha. Score one for Martha, and moms everywhere. Hello, blister pack of ibuprofen! I swallow a couple of tablets with a swig of water and paw through the rest of the kit: band-aids and an ace bandage, a whistle, waterproof matches, a mirror. Plus, I packed two homemade oatmeal bars and a jar of peanuts and raisins. At least I won't starve.

Stranded, hurt, but I can handle it.

No freak-outs. No worries. This girl is different.

I wrap the ace bandage around my ankle and dip it back into the water. Crimson maple leaves float by, brown dappling their curling tips. They swirl and laze in the eddy from my foot. I might as well try to slow down too; it will be a while before Martha realizes I'm hurt. After her shift at Walmart, she'll probably stop at the food co-op and the library and who knows what else. Plus, it would take her a long time to hike this far along the creek. So even if she gets home early, and she notices my note and doesn't just assume I'm in the barn or doing yoga, I'm stuck here well past sundown. At the earliest.

From the position of the sun, it's not yet noon. Which leaves eight or nine hours to wait, or to come up with a better idea. Just me and my new friend Ribbons.

Hours later, still without an exit strategy, I take a break from drawing in my journal to check my sketches against Ribbons in his container. I ought to let him go, but I like the company. Sighing, I run my fingers over the smooth glass. I should probably try to find him a tasty worm or cricket to eat —

Wait. Voices in the woods.

A twig snaps. The voices get closer. I can pick out a male voice, some words: school, shop, classes. Is it two people out there, or three?

"Hey!" I call. "Hello?"

The voices go silent.

"I'm down by the creek!" I regard my throbbing ankle. "Actually, I'm pretty much up the creek!"

The voices return, low and quiet, like they're discussing what to do. Branches move, leaves rustle. A boy about my age, in cutoff cargo shorts and hiking boots, pops out of the trees. I've seen him before, in town — once in the library, a few times at the coffee shop. You can't help but see him. He is that kind of beautiful. A crunchier, leaner version of Kumar from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. His hair is glossy black, his eyes dark.

Blood rushes into my cheeks.

"Hi," he says. The frays of his shorts brush against his legs when he moves. His leather hiking boots are scuffed and worn into whorls of color, whipped cream melting into milky coffee.

"Hi." I will not sound like a damsel in distress. Although, technically, with a sprained ankle and no cell phone, I kind of am.

But where is the source of the other voice, or voices?

As if on cue, someone else stumbles out from the woods.

Kumar turns to catch the jumble of limbs. Coltish legs steady themselves and unfold to reveal a girl, very pretty. I've seen her around too.

"Hi." I fan a small wave. "I'm Evie." My heart won't stop pounding.

"Hi!" The girl is all eyelashes and toenail polish, in flip-flops and a short sundress. Not the most practical hiking attire, but who am I to judge? After all, I'm barefoot. The girl is petite and thin and gamine, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, but with richer, tawny brown skin. Indian maybe, or Latin American?

"What's up?" She pokes her fingers into her short, jet-black hair, like she wants to fluff and spike it.

"I hurt my ankle. It won't take weight, and no one really knows where I am."

Kumar looks around. What's he looking for? Is some - one else with them?

Audrey Hepburn asks, "You came out this far alone?" and I realize she is voicing Kumar's thoughts. She says it like it's unimaginable, like, You just flew back from the moon?

I shrug. "I live about five miles downstream."

"You live here?" the boy asks. They look at each other.

The girl juts out her hip, sets her hand on it. "Did you, like, just move or something?"

I know what they're thinking. Our town only has one high school, so everyone knows everyone. Well, obviously not everyone. I shake my head. "I've lived here two years. I'm a homeschooler."

They look at each other again. They are saying a lot with those looks.

"I'm normal, I swear!" I smile to reassure them. "I'm actually going to school this year. Starting Monday." Only three days away. I can't wait. I want to see what it's like; Martha is horrified that it will ruin me. It took a protracted battle to convince her to let me enroll. I finally wore her down — a brutal campaign of attrition — with ceaseless appeals for my own empowerment and personal decision-making. Also I convinced her I could be a gonzo journalist and treat high school like ethnographic research.

"I'll be a senior." I lift my foot out of the creek so I can turn all the way around to face Kumar and Audrey.

"That's awesome!" says the girl. She wiggles her thumb at herself and the boy, "Us too."

The boy's eyes go wide; he is staring at my ankle. It looks swollen even with the ace bandage.

"You weren't kidding about your ankle. Nasty sprain." He steps closer and bends down to look at it. "All right if I have a look? I've had some experience with these."

I nod. He kneels in front of me. My heart is thumping. Please tell me he can't hear it. The closer he gets, the harder it hammers. These two are probably together, they're a couple. Isn't that what I'm supposed to assume? I'm not really an expert at this kind of thing.

"Can I unwrap the bandage?"

I swallow hard, and nod again, and hope that my heart can take the strain of him touching me.

Audrey tucks her dress behind her knees and dips into a knees-together, ladylike squat next to Kumar. Her eyes skim my bare feet, slide up to my cutoffs and tank top, stop at my makeup-less face. Why do girls always look me over like this?

My heart sinks. Which makes me feel lame, because my life is not about feeling insecure. But if Audrey is the kind of girl Kumar likes, he would have zero interest in me. Petite I'm not. I'm not fat, I'm just ... built. Muscled and solid and tall. As for girly? Put it this way: I'm proud of being a girl, but girly? Not so much. I glance at my bare feet and unpolished toes, the light hairs on my unshaved shins, and I reach back to tighten my long brown ponytail. Whatever. I am what I am.

Besides, if they're together I shouldn't even be thinking these things.

Kumar cups the back of my foot and lifts it. I take a deep breath because it hurts, and because my heart is beating so hard.

Audrey and Kumar confer. Their words seem to float between them, bubbles that glint and pop.

"OHMIGOD!" The girl scrambles backward.

The boy frowns at my ankle. "It's not that bad."

The color has drained from her face, leaving it ashy. In terror, she points at the jar. "Snake! Snake!"

"Oh no. I'm sorry! I should have warned you." I hate that people are afraid of such wonderful creatures. I don't want to be the cause of any snake-hate. "He's just a little ribbon snake. Completely harmless."

She shakes her head, apparently unconvinced. She takes another step back.

"Would it be better if I let it go? Or do you want me to keep it contained?"

"Con ... contained."

"Okay. Don't worry. I'll keep it in the jar and —"

The boy rolls his eyes at Audrey. "Don't be such a wuss." He turns to me and asks, "Planning on keeping it?"

"No. I was just doing some —"

"Drawings." He's spotted my journal. "Wow. Can I see?"


He picks it up and thumbs through the pages. "Holy crap. These are amazing."


"What?" The girl tries to see without moving closer.

"Drawings. The snake and other stuff." He flips my journal shut and hands it to me, then turns to the girl. "Jay, why don't you start back? We'll wait until you get far ahead before we let the snake loose."

"No no no no no no no. I am not liking your plan. Trudging back through the forest alone? I don't think so." She wraps her arms around herself. "There might be more snakes or other various reptiles. Or what if I take a wrong turn and get lost forever?"

The boy groans.

"How about this?" I say. "On the count of three, you run, and I'll let the snake go in the other direction —"

"And I'll carry you out of here," Kumar says.

Oh yeah. My ankle. He's going to carry me, like I need to be rescued? How humiliating!

Plus, can I handle being that close to him? His beauty is pathological. Which pisses me off, really. Me being all swooning and hyperventilating — it's so lame.

But he's already counting: "One, two ..."

The girl takes off, and I hurry to let Ribbons the snake go. The boy picks me up, grunting a little with the effort. Yeah, I'm not small.

"I'm not a damsel in distress, you know."

He laughs. "Trust me: the thought did not occur."


You know there are moments such as these when time stands still and all you do is hold your breath and hope it will wait for you. — Dorothea Lange, photojournalist, 1895–1965

Audrey Hepburn's real name is Jacinda and beauteous Kumar is Rajas.

Rajas. He's carrying me piggyback to his car, which he says is parked on the state forest access road not too far away. When the trail is wide enough, Jacinda walks beside us. She scrunches her nose as she picks her way through the flora. "Tell me if you see any snakes." She laughs. "Actually, don't tell me if you see any snakes. Just tell me to run."

"Got it." I keep an eye out for any slithery movement. My nose is scrunching too — out of frustration at my heart, which continues to jump around because of Rajas. It won't listen to me, even though I'm a strong woman with strong morals. If the dude's taken, he's taken. Stop it, heart. Then again, I can't blame you too much, heart: I am straddling the boy's back, my thighs are rubbing against his arms. And he's so warm. And he smells so good.

"What brought you two out this way?" I ask Rajas and Jacinda, to distract myself from my heart (and/or pheromones).

Rajas's attempt at a shrug suffers under my weight. "Just looking around."

"Raj dragged me out here."

"Because it's good for you," Rajas tells Jacinda. "Clear your head from all that girly crap you're into."

"Hey," I interrupt. "Girly doesn't necessarily make something crap."

"Yeah." Jacinda smiles. "Girls rule, boys drool."

"Way to take the conversation back to second grade, Jay," Rajas says. "Besides, Eve doesn't seem like the girly type."

Okay ... is that good or bad? In his eyes, I mean. Dang! What is wrong with me! Why do I care?

"What about you?" Rajas asks me. "Why were you out here? Alone?"

"Yeah, do you, like, hang out here all the time?"

"I do," I answer. "I feel most at home when I'm outdoors."

They respond simultaneously: Rajas says, "Nice." Jacinda says, "Ew. I cannot relate." She swats at an invisible insect. "Get me inside already. Seriously. I never thought the Blue Biohazard would seem so appealing."

"I must have heard you wrong," growls Rajas, "because that sounded like you are disrespecting my baby."

Did I miss something? Is he really mad? "The blue what?"

"Biohazard," answers Jacinda. "Raj's car. He gets snippy if you don't bow down and worship it."

"You don't need to worship her. Polishing her hubcabs would suffice."

I lean closer to Rajas's ear. I'm fully supportive of naming inanimate objects, but still. "The Blue Biohazard?"

"Blue, for obvious reasons. Biohazard, because she averages a stately five miles a gallon." Rajas puffs out his chest in a show of pride.

"And because it, like, leaks fluids everywhere."

"Just my baby's way of sharing the love, Jay."

"Wow." I lean back a little; Rajas shifts his hold to adjust to my weight shift. More skin against skin: it sends a tingle. "Five miles a gallon? I think that might be worse than a Hummer."

Rajas laughs. "You know it. Figured I'd save myself the sixty thousand, and just drive grandpa's car until it falls apart."

We all settle into happy quiet. Around us, nut - hatches and chickadees skitter on tree branches. Rajas's boots pad softly on the earth. Jacinda's flip-flops thwup thwup thwup against her soles. While I study the shafts of sunlight filtering through the evergreens, Rajas shifts again. Tingle.

"Am I getting too heavy?"

"You're fine." Rajas pops me up to shift my weight a couple of inches higher.

"I must say, this is quite the ..." I trail off, trying to think of a word other than rescue.

"Quite the non-rescue?" Rajas suggests. "Because you're a non-damsel in non-distress, right?"

I laugh. "Right."

"I always considered myself a non-hero," Rajas says.

"Yeah, non-problem whatso-never," Jacinda says.

"Still. You guys don't even know me," I say. "That could've been a really long wait back there if you hadn't come along."

"Well we love non-rescues, don't we, Raj?"

"Of course." Sweat dews on Rajas's shoulders and chest; our bodies are starting to slip and stick where our skin touches. "We're almost there now."

"Blue Biohazard, here we come!" Jacinda picks up into a jog.

"Fantastic," I say, but really, I wouldn't mind more walking — miles more — so I could be with Rajas like this for a long, long time.

"Turn here." I point to the gravel road. "My driveway's up the hill."

"Roger that." Rajas turns the car onto the pitted road. The Blue Biohazard is the perfect name for his enormous, leaky, rusty, rickety old boat of a car.

"I shudder to think of the havoc we're wreaking on the environment," I say, "but ... this is a great car. Tons of personality." I'm riding in the front, next to Rajas, because of my ankle. I suppose Jacinda usually sits here. God, I wish my heart would stop pounding. But he is so beautiful. And so nice. With a great sense of humor. And he and Jacinda seem to get my jokes, which isn't a small thing, isn't a common thing at all. I haven't had many friends my own age.

"Thanks." Rajas pats the steering wheel. "My sweet, sweet baby. 1976 Buick Skylark."

"I have a feeling you might appreciate my own vehicular transportation."

"Oh yeah?" he asks.

"Mmm-hmm. Martha — that's my mom — and I have a 1961 Volkswagen minibus."

"No way. That is a sweet ride."

"Ugh." Jacinda pops into the space between the front seats. "You two cannot be serious! You are, like, two of a kind with your old piece-of-junk clunkers!"

Two of a kind? If you say so! Sweat prickles my forehead. "That's what we call her. The Clunker."

Jacinda rolls her eyes and groans; Rajas elbows her back to her seat.

"But you have me beat," I tell Rajas, "with all your elite universities." College stickers coat the Biohazard's rear window.

Rajas squints at me like he's trying to tell if I'm serious. "Yeah," he says. "Lends an air of grandeur."

"Very prestigious," I say.

"He's being ironic," Jacinda chimes in. "Because his car is such a heap? And they are such good schools?"


Excerpted from This Girl Is Different by J. J. Johnson. Copyright © 2011 J.J. Johnson. Excerpted by permission of Peachtree Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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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.