25 September 2011

REVIEW: THIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT

This Girl is Different 
Author: JJ Johnson
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
UK Release date: April 2011
Genre: Young adult
Read via NetGalley

Home-schooled Evie has decided to spend her senior year in high school. But Evie isn't like most teenagers, because this girl is different. Strong willed and independent, when Evie starts school she is drawn to change the oppressive rules and regulations. But she'll find that things don't change as easily as she might have thought they would have and some people just don't want to change.

Review: When I started reading I instantly loved Evie's alternative lifestyle. Her and her mum live in a self-sufficient eco dome home with their own cow, growing their own vegetables and fighting the 'man'. From the off, this book was different to the normal kind of book I read. Teetering very close to the edge of a stereotypical alternative home-schooled life, This Girl is Different just manages to avoid predictable stereotyping and retain a realistic and human feel.

I really liked Evie. She is unique, independent, assertive and thinks for herself. She has real values and diverse interests, and makes a great protagonist. I loved seeing her perspective as she enters the school environment with its strange rules and regulations, and I totally empathised with her as she struggled to understand these rules and break free from its oppression often causing unintentional chaos.

But I didn't completely understand her attraction to Razas, and found it very shallow for someone with such a strong moral compass. Sure I understand the fall-head-over-heels-at-first-sight thing. And whilst Razas appreciated her uniqueness, he was shallow, pestered her for sex, and didn't acknowledge their relationship to anyone other than Evie. In my opinion, she deserved someone better.

This Girl is Different tackles lots of big social issues such as oppression, freedom of speech, bullying, student-teacher relationships, justice, the school institution, and moral values. As is typical of real-life these kind of issues aren't always clear-cut black-or-white situations. For example, when standing up against a teacher that bullies students turns in an opportunity for the whole student body to discriminate against each other, who is in the wrong? Despite the fact that Evie is trying to tackle these issues in school and make life better for everyone, she sadly makes things worse because for everyone else oppression and dictatorship is the norm. JJ Johnson doesn't attempt to give answers to these big questions and dilemmas, but Evie's wholehearted approach of seeking justice certainly makes you think and reflect on the issues.

With so many issues crossing its pages I kind of expected some big social message or lesson to come across at the end of the book, which didn't happen (and I'm actually thankful for). The chapter quotes slowly filtered little messages throughout the book and worked really well relating to the context of the current chapter. I think this worked so much better than having a big moral to the whole story.

This Girl is Different is a unique and refreshing look at growing up, facing social and moral dilemmas and discovering who you are.

Rating: 4*

3 comments:

Vivienne said...

I haven't heard of this one before. But it does sound interesting. I can't imagine what it is like to live so eco friendly.

Bookworm1858 said...

I thought she deserved better than Razas too and I also loved Evie-such a great character!

Luisa at Chicklish said...

Thank you so much for this fascinating review. I've added this to my wishlist - I love the sound of the alternative lifestyle themes.