Richie's Picks: THIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT
- Richie's Picks: THIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT by JJ Johnson, Peachtree, April 2011, 320p., ISBN: 978-1-56145-578-2"The last few days have been torture. In the movies, everyone hates high school, and I'm starting to comprehend why. It has nothing to do with pedagogy or educational philosophy. It's the humans."Though she does her best to keep it from her peers, 17 year-old Evie's full name is Evensong Sparkling Morningdew. She lives in the woods with her mother, Martha, in a geodesic dome home that they constructed from a kit. Evie never met her father, who was a fellow free spirit whom her mother met eighteen years ago on a Phish tour.The well-read Evie, who has been homeschooled her entire life and indoctrinated by Martha to fight the system, builds amazing scale models of communities and hopes to attend Cornell a year from now and study Urban Planning. But, meanwhile, she has persuaded her mother to allow her to attend public school for the first time -- enrolling in the local high school for her senior year."Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one's enemies."-- Leon Trotsky, Marxist Theorist and Bolshevik Revolutionary, 1879-1940What the social justice-minded Evie will learn is that, in many circumstances, a butter knife works better than a chainsaw."Dr. Folger shifts and clears his throat. 'The difficulty, of course, is the anonymous nature of the postings. The uncoupling, if you will, of the responsibility that should accompany freedom of expression.'"Evie's well-developed sense of social justice, combined with her breadth of knowledge, prepares her to take on the injustices she perceives in the high school (and leads her to accumulating a mind-blowing number of detentions). For instance, why do teachers have cleaner and better supplied bathrooms than do students? Why can those with smart phones text and partake in online chats during free times while those who can only afford regular cell phones be punished for using them? Why do teachers not have to show the same level of respect toward students that students are required to show to them?"The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while."-- Albert Einstein, Physicist and Nobel Prize Winner, 1879-1955Unfortunately, the tactic Evie and her two new friends employ to battle injustice -- in the wake of a teacher's horrific berating of a Cheer Squad member for not being sufficiently thin -- get out of hand. It is Evie, who comes to be considered by all to be the embodiment of what has gone wrong with the school, who has to figure out how to heal her friendships and mend the school."Let us not become the evil that we deplore."-- Oakland Congresswoman Barbara LeeTHIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT is filled with fun quotations (of which both Evie and one of her teachers are collectors), first love, and a fresh perspective of what high school is really like.Richie Partington, MLIS
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