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Lesbians Neither Crazy Nor Dead

Forever Young Adult Presents: a review of  The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George

Lesbians Neither Crazy Nor Dead

BOOK REPORT for The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George

Cover Story: That Entirely Depends
BFF Charm: One Yay, One Nay, and One Oy Vay
Swoonworthy Scale: 8, If I'm Not Thinking About It
Talky Talk: She Said, I Said, I Said
Bonus Factors: LGBTQ, Anti-Walmart, Kickass Parents
Relationship Status: After School Special Friends

Cover Story: That Entirely Depends

So, check it! There are two different covers for this book! There's the cover I have (more headless bodies, hooray. waves sarcasm flag) and then there's the adorable yellow cover, with just a sketch of Jesse's boots and Emily's flats. And that cover is so cute! Sparse, sure, but adorable without being twee. This is totally a book coverthat sparks further discussion - maybe even a few annoying people interrupting you at lunch to ask my least favorite question: "Whatcha doing? Reading?"

The other cover, on the other hand, leaves very little to the imagination - it's definitely two people kissing. Though I guess that people who don't read the back cover first will assume that it's a boy and a girl on the cover and then have their heteronormative assumptions turned back on them! Ha! So there!

The Deal:

Jesse and Emily are both pretty comfortable in their own skins. Jesse is out and proud, wears big combat boots, and gets in detention nearly daily because she is constantly skipping class in order to paper the school walls with fliers for her organization NOLAW (National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos), of which she is both the founding and sole member. Emily is vice-president of Student Council, popular, smart and determined, with a sweet long-term boyfriend. In fact, the only thing that confuses either Jesse or Emily is the library bathroom, in which they meet every Tuesday to make out like crazy.

Jesse isn't happy being Emily's little secret but she's even less happy when she and Emily come down on opposite sides of an issue. Can the two girls work it out? Will Jesse and Emily manage to both be happy? Or are they both doomed to spend their high school lives mired in a web of secret lust and misery?

BFF Charm: One Yay, One Nay, and One Oy Vay

Jesse DEF gets my BFF charm, and a platinum-coated one to boot! She's brave, opinionated, smart and sarcastic. She has her flaws - like not spending enough time listening to her too-awesome-for-words parents and letting herself be a doormat for Emily for far too long - but on the whole I find her to be delightful. I would have been glad to be her bestie in high school, so long as she allowed me to throw ina few "What, what, what are you doing"s anytime I saw her sneaking off to meet Emily.

Speaking of Emily, she gets a big ol' NAY from me. But that's kind of what's great about her! Emily just seems so realistic to me - she's that sort of spoiled girl who doesn't know that she's spoiled, you know? She'd consider herself nice and friendly to everyone, and she is, so long as what they want isn't going to interfere with what Emily wants. It's easy to hate Emily, because Jesse's just so lovely, but George does a good job of making you hope that Emily turns into a good person when she grows up.

The oy vey? That's for Esther, who I kinda love. But lord, that girl is gonna take some work! Her dad's a hoarder, her mom is dead, Esther herself spends every weekend protesting for peace and she's probably going to be voted Girl Most Obsessed With Joan of Arc in her senior yearbook. I just feel like she's way too earnest for me. I'm old, Esther! If I can't donate money to a cause and then feel smug about it later, I just can't be bothered.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8, If I'm Not Thinking About It

LORD ALMIGHTY, Jesse and Emily's make out sessions were SO FUCKING HOT. I mean, like ... really hot, y'all. Maybe it's some leftover love for Veronica and Logan's secret bathroom makeout sessions, but any sort of bathroom nookie is, like, hottest of the hot for me. (That's probably gross, right? I mean, there are lots of germs in the bathroom. But there are also counters. Mirrors. I rest my case.) So, anyway, yeah. Hotness scale? THROUGH THE ROOF!

But! You know how when you turn 24 and you date people who are capital letters Bad For You but instead of that being awesome it's started to become sort of disquieting because you know you're way better than this so why aren't you getting it on with someone who actually deserves you? Yeah. That.

Talky Talk: She Said, I Said, I Said

I felt like the narrative of this book was a little strange. Basically, both Emily and Esther's portions are written in first person narrative, while Jesse is written in third person. And I have to say . . . I didn't really get it? Jesse's definitely the most sympathetic character of the book, so maybe George felt that she didn't need to draw the reader even further into Jesse's mind? I could understand that, but to be honest, it came off more like the book was originally written in one voice and then George decided that she'd change horses midstream, but forgot to update the part she'd already written.

That said, this book is adorably snarky and, at times, laugh out loud funny. In fact, Emily's saving grace is her voice - she's just kind of hilariously clueless and shallow, which I couldn't help but laugh at.

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

Everything's coming up Milhouse this week! Thankfully, LGTBQ-centered books are not as rare as they were even a few years, but I love that this book is just a simple, coming of age story, with a little bit of dating-the-wrong-person twist. I think lots of teens will enjoy the book, whether they're interested in identity issues or not.

Bonus Factor: Anti-Walmart

Oh, Walmart. I'd love to pretend that I put my money where my mouth is and refuse to frequent them, but it is, like, the only place to buy stuff in my family's small town in Mississippi (notwhistanding Eli and Peyton Manning's mom's General Store, where I buy all of my shoes) and has under-employed several members of my family! But they are AWFUL (uh, Walmart, not my family.), and so even if I can't smugly pass up the opportunity to purchase a fan, roast chicken, blu-ray dvd and toothpaste at once, I can at least metaphorically turn my nose up at them via this book.

Bonus Factor: Kickass Parents

Hooray for kickass parents! And Jesse's are, like, the MOST kickass. They're both super accepting of Jesse's personality and sexuality, but they don't let her get away with breaking the rules. Jesse's dad is a family psych counselor, so he's always trying to cool down Jesse and her mom's more hot-natured tempers with soothing psych questions, and Jesse's mom is totally snarky and ass-kicking. I would totally be Jesse's bestie just so that I could hang out with her fam!

Casting Call:

Elizabeth Olsen as Jesse

The Other Olsen has started to overshadow her older sisters (who I unequivocably adore, no lie) with her actual acting talent. I think she could tackle Jesse.

Snarky, pretty, preppy and spoiled? Who else but Spencer?

Troian Bellisario as Emily

Relationship Status: After School Special Friends

I really enjoyed my time with this book! Every day I'd race home from work school and hang out with this book for an hour and we'd talk all about our lives. I even let this book tell me all about its crush on the school's most popular girl, even though I knew it wasn't going to end out well at all. At times, this book would get a little too earnest for me, but sometimes that's just what I needed after a long day of soul-crushing work school. So feel free to hang out with me anytime, Book! We can watch School House Rock together and learn about Conjunctions.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Penguin Group. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!). The Difference Between You and Me is available in stores now!

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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