Book Review: This Girl is Different by JJ Johnson

This Girl Is DifferentThis Girl Is Different by JJ Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stranded, hurt, but I can handle it. No freak-outs. No worries. This girl is different.

Three days before the beginning of her Senior year of high school, Evie sprains her ankle hiking along the creek. She refuses to see herself as a damsel in distress, but it still comes as a relief when two local teenagers stumble upon her and help her out. Even better, it turns out that the two teenagers will also be Seniors in a few days, and they’re happy to help Evie get settled in her new school. She’s not exactly new in town, but she has been homeschooled (or, really, “unschooled”) by her mother. With plans to go to Cornell, Evie wants to experience a year of high school before heading off to college.

Once school starts, it isn’t long before Evie’s outspoken nature and commitment to social justice put her at odds with the high school Powers That Be. Her attempts to improve the situation for students, while founded on the best of intentions, risk destroying her new friendships and budding romance. She has always told herself that she is different, but can she stay true to herself and still get through a year in the Institution of School?

Evie’s unique voice is a welcome addition to the YA Lit scene. She is smart, strong, and self-confident, but also vulnerable to the emotional turmoil that comes with being a teenager. Having spent her whole life with her mother and uncle, moving from place to place, following her own interests in solitary study, she is unprepared to deal with the social side of high school. Her outrage at the injustices of school life (Why do the students have gross bathrooms while the faculty have nice, clean ones? Why are the students cooped up inside all day, instead of being allowed in the courtyard during lunch?) and the abuses of power she witnesses ring absolutely true, and her determination to do something about them will have readers cheering her on. Johnson’s debut YA title is a welcome breath of fresh air. Highly recommended.

On shelves April 1, 2011

Book Source: e-ARC via NetGalley, by request

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Reading Challenge Update: January

Here we are, halfway through the first month of the year. Let’s see how I’m doing on my 2011 Reading Challenges.

At the moment, I’m at 1/12. Technically, I’ve finished two e-books in 2011, but I started one of them in the last few days of December 2010. The one I started and finished in 2011 was Lauren Myracle’s forthcoming YA novel Shine, in e-ARC format, courtesy of NetGalley. I’ll have a review up next week. I’ve started another e-ARC, Sonya Sones’ first adult novel, The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus. Like her YA books, this is a novel-in-verse. It’s very funny so far.

Um, yeah. Those three ARCS from Hachette are still sitting on my coffee table, and I’m waiting for the other titles on my list to show up in my library.

This one, I confess, is not going so well, either. I’m one chapter into Possessing Genius. I’m enjoying it so far. It’s just, you know, I have these shiny new ARCs calling to me from the nook….

I’ll get back to you next month.

How are your Reading Challenges going?

More Debut Titles!

Remember my nice little list of 12 titles for the Debut Author Challenge?

Yeah. That list is getting a little longer.

During the week after Christmas, I got a box from Hachette. Inside the box were four ARCs of 2011 titles. One was Julie Anne Peters’ She Loves You, She Loves You Not, which I read right away and reviewed. Peters is an established YA author – one I admire and whose work I enjoy quite a lot – so that one wouldn’t count for the Debut Author Challenge. The other three books I tucked away to read after the New Year, since they were all debuts!

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill
The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

Dark Parties by Sara Grant
Dark Parties by Sara Grant

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Forgotten by Cat Patrick

And then, of course, I stumbled on someone else’s list of TBR debuts, and I saw a few that I just couldn’t resist adding to my own list:

Yes, 2011 is looking like a very good year for YA debuts. And May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (April 2012) looks really good for next year.

Reading Challenge!

I haven’t tried doing a reading challenge over here yet, but I just can’t resist The Story Siren. (Heh. See what I did there?) This particular challenge is all about reading debut Middle Grade/Young Adult novels. The idea is to read and review at least 12 titles in 2011. While I read children’s books by many different authors, I can get in a bit of a rut when it comes to YA. I’m looking forward to encountering some fabulous new authors.

My preliminary list:

  1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  2. Rival by Sarah Bennett Wealer
  3. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
  4. 10 Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell
  5. The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long
  6. Dogsled Dreams by Terry Lynn Johnson
  7. The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
  8. I Am J by Cris Beam
  9. The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg
  10. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
  11. Warped by Maurissa Guibord
  12. What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez

Watch this space (or my GoodReads profile) for the reviews. And thanks to Kristi for putting this together!