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Review: This Girl is Different by J.J. Johnson

Saturday, July 16, 2011
2 Stars: An Okay Read
Pages: 320
Publication: April 1, 2011 by Peachtree Publishers

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.

Having been homeschooled all her life, Evie is excited to start public school. Despite making some new friends just before school starts, however, the jump from private schooling to public schooling is rocky, and her outspoken nature gets her in a lot of trouble over the idea of justice, especially with those satisfied with the status quo.

The book is filled with many contemporary cliches: the cheerleaders and jocks, the nerds and dorks, the popular kids and invisible kids. I'm a bit tired of seeing these stereotypes blown so big in proportion. It may have seen as necessary for this book. Who else would be the ones to target and be targeted when Evie's attempts to reform the school begin to be used to the opposite effect? However, I feel as though it was blown out of proportion even with Jacinda being a cheerleader captain with a good heart.

Evie is a unique character. She’s grown up learning how to speak for herself, and she’s a bit of an idealist. When she brings up her opinions on school, she expects instant change, which I found a bit ridiculous. It doesn't make her likable, and she ends up frustrating herself, her peers, and her teachers with her outrageous requests.

Still, this a book about growing up. Evie makes a lot of mistakes, there are drastic results, and she learns from them. This Girl is Different is about what it means to be an individual, on the courage to side with justice, and on the consequences of our actions. I doubt older readers like myself will enjoy this book, having seen too many stereotypes in books and movies, but tween readers may enjoy it as it seems more relatable to younger readers.

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A copy of this book was provided for review purposes by the publisher.
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