Jessica's Reviews > The Difference Between You and Me

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George
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's review
Jul 09, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: lgbt, ya-fiction
Read from July 09 to 12, 2012

Jesse is the out-and-proud daughter of activist parents who papers the school with "manifestos" from her "organization" (of which she is the only member), NOLAW (National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos). Emily is a J. Crew sweater-wearing, student council vice president with the same boyfriend she's had since eighth grade. According to the laws of high school, they should never interact with one another. But they've been hooking up in the bathroom of the library every Tuesday afternoon during Emily's breaks from work for a year. The two share passionate feelings for each other but have almost nothing else in common. The few times they've tried to talk about each other's interests, they've been disgusted with one another. Jesse has gotten to the point where she doesn't want to hide anymore. She wants their relationship to be public, and for the two girls not to have to ignore each other in the halls of their high school. But Emily doesn't want to. She loves her longtime boyfriend, Michael, even though his kisses are gross and slobbery. She also doesn't want to complicate her position as student council vice president and all of the activities she's involved with.

Things start to get even more complicated. Jesse meets freshman Esther, another activist who idolizes Joan of Arc. Jesse and Esther start campaigning against StarMart, a big-box chain store that will drive out the local, family-owned businesses. Emily, however, has spearheaded a campaign for the school to receive funds from corporations.. including StarMart's parent company.

It takes a long time for the action to develop in The Difference Between You and Me; in fact, I think that it's a little misleading that the whole StarMart plot is even mentioned on the book jacket summary at all, because Jesse doesn't even get involved in the fight against StarMart until at least halfway through the book. I don't mind all the time spent setting the scene, because it's an interesting scenario and the characters are mostly well-drawn, and just this side of cliche. You often read about uptight parents who disapprove of their children's dating choices, so it was pretty interesting to read about Jesse being afraid to tell her parents about Emily because she was so straight-and-narrow. I thought that the character development of Esther (of the three girls) was the weakest because she didn't seem very nuanced. It was also interesting that Esther was referred to by several characters as a potential love interest for Jesse (even if Jesse didn't see it that way), but her sexual orientation was never stated. An odd narrative choice is that Jesse, Emily, and Esther all narrate alternating chapters, but Emily and Esther's are first person and Jesse's are third person. In all, The Difference Between You and Me is well-written, and a thoughtful mix of fun and serious without being too heavy.

Ages 15+

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07/09/2012 page 48
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