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This Home Schooler Ain’t No Lindsay Lohan

A review of This Girl Is Different by J.J. Johnson, in which a home schooled girl ventures off to public school for her senior year.

This Home Schooler Ain’t No Lindsay Lohan

BOOK REPORT for This Girl Is Different by J.J. Johnson

Cover Story: Flaunt It
BFF Charm: Maybe
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: This Girl Is Preachy
Bonus Factor: Farm Livin'
Anti-Bonus Factor: Hippie Mom
Relationship Status: Social Studies Partner

Cover Story: Flaunt It

The cover goes perfectly with the title, because dang, it's different! And I love it! Illustration isn't just for kids books, and it's a heck of a lot better than the same blurry stock photos we see over and over again. Plus, the image is totally connected with the story. What? I know! Apparently, that's like, REALLY hard to accomplish for some reason.

The Deal:

So, the main reason I read this book is because it's about a girl, Evie, who has been home schooled her whole life and decides to spend her senior year at a public school. I'm intrigued by home schoolers, because they're like living social experiments. Some of them turn out super weird, others turn out fabulously (HI JENNY), and all of the boys turn out to be Eagle Scouts. Ok, yeah, there's a lot of stereotypes that exist about kids who are home schooled, and when I started the book, I tried to cast them out of my head. Turns out that I don't foster an innate prejudice against home schoolers-- not at all. I actually just hate hippies.

Evie (short for Evensong Sparkling Morningdew) lives in a dome house that she built with her mom, Martha, a single mom who has raised her daughter to love Mother Nature and fight the Man. YOU GUYS THAT SENTENCE WAS SO HARD FOR ME TO WRITE. Ok, ok, deep breath, I'm fine. Evie is a strong, independent gal, which is why she decides her life won't be complete without a year at public school. I think you can all guess what a great idea THAT turns out to be. Along the way, she befriends Jacinda, a popular cheerleader who's actually nice, and her cousin Rajas, who quickly becomes Evie's crush. Just like Cady in Mean Girls, Evie quickly learns that high school is full of stupid rules and adults who decided to teach because they get summers off. Inspired by the liberal teachings of her mom, Evie decides to take action against the injustice around her, but she soon discovers that she's not in the dome home anymore.

BFF Charm: Maybe

Ooooooh, Evie. I simultaneously want to hug you and smack you at the same time. You're compassionate and intelligent and brave, but you're also TOTALLY CLUELESS, just like Cher before the mall fountains turn on. I have to give Jacinda and Rajas major pants for being so nice to you, even when you do annoying shizz like answer all of the teacher's questions or rant about sustainable architecture. Listen, it's cool to be smart, but no one likes a know-it-all! (Trust me, I have personal experience in this area.) While I admire your convictions, I don't think I'd want to invite them over to my house for an after-school snack.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Through Evie's eyes, Rajas seems like one sexy mofo, and bonus, he's not white! And it's, like, not a big deal! I love that. But while Rajas is hot, I don't understand why he goes for Evie. No offense, girl, it's just that I wanted to feel more tension and chemistry building up between the two of you. It would have made the subsequent make-out sessions, as nice as they were, a lot more panty-melting.

Talky Talk: This Girl Is Preachy

Johnson's voice for Evie is honest and straight up, but for me, it might have been a little too authentic. While I found Evie's struggles and insecurities to be totally real, my eyes couldn't help but roll a little at her painfully earnest mentality. The story was well paced and compelling (except for a certain plot point with a lecherous teacher that I found a little unbelievable), and while I was totally rooting for Evie to succeed, I also wanted to get the hell out of her head before she thought, "This girl is different," for the millionth time.

Bonus Factor: Farm Livin'

Just like Eva Gabor, I'm a city gal, but I do adore reading about country life! Evie spends a lot of beautiful, quiet moments looking up at the night sky or milking the family cow, Hannah Bramble, and the dome home certainly seems idyllic. At least, when Evie's mom's not there.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Hippie Mom

Y'all, I am all about peace and love, but I CANNOT HANDLE HIPPIES. I could give you a lot of reasons, but Patton Oswalt's already done it for me. Suffice it to say, Evie's mom drove me CRAZYCAKES. Forced to work at Wal-mart because it's the only job she can get, she spends her days putting peace stickers on toy guns and saying random phrases in French. I'm not saying she's not a good person, I'm saying that SHE'S ANNOYING.

Casting Call:

She's actually a little too young (that never happens!) but Hailee would make a brilliant, defiant Evie.

Hailee Steinfeld as Evie

Look, you guys! I found a teen actress of South Asian descent! YES!

Manjeeven Grewal as Jacinda

I couldn't find my Rajas, though. Any suggestions?

Relationship Status: Social Studies Partner

When I got paired with this book for a social studies project, I was a little skeptical. Would we work well together? Would this book have weird ideas that I would have to pretend to take seriously? But the more time we spent after school together, the more I grew to appreciate this book. It's feminist and open and honest, and while I don't plan on inviting it to chill with me at the mall food court (it probably doesn't believe in fast food, even Chic-Fil-A), I admire its empowering message.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my copy of the book from Peachtree Publishers. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). This Girl Is Different is available now!

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Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).