What happens when a girl, homeschooled by her counterculture mother, decides to spend her senior year in public school? First friendship, first love—and first encounters with the complexities of authority and responsibility.
Evie is different. Not just her upbringing-though that's certainly been unusual-but also her mindset. She's smart, independent, confident, opinionated, and ready to take on a new challenge: The Institution of School.
It doesn't take this homeschooled kid long to discover that high school is a whole new world, and not in the way she expected. It's also a social minefield, and Evie finds herself confronting new problems at every turn, failing to follow or even understand the rules, and proposing solutions that aren't welcome or accepted.
Not one to sit idly by, Evie sets out to make changes. Big changes. The movement she starts takes off, but before she realizes what's happening, her plan spirals out of control, forcing her to come to terms with a world she is only just beginning to comprehend.
JJ Johnson's powerful debut novel will enthrall readers as it challenges assumptions about friendship, rules, boundaries, and power.
So, where to begin. When I first saw this book listed in Peachtree Publishing's spring catalog, it gave me pause. Why? Well, the cover first and foremost. You have to admit that's a pretty eye catching piece of artwork there and I just love how "different" is turned upside down....kind of like Evie's world in the coming days. Second giver of pause, the story synopsis. It sounded just "different" enough to be interesting, but what I got once I started on my reading adventure....was a whole lot more. To keep from rambling on (too much at least), I'll address a few points of interest that I felt really stood out....though trust me, the whole story is well worthy of praise. Here goes...
2. The cast of characters is a unique blend stemming from a variety of backgrounds (both culturally and religiously) that reflect what we see in the world today. Think about your friends, acquaintances, and neighbors. It's highly doubtful they are all cookie-cutter images of you so why shouldn't the literary world reflect that diversity as well? My point exactly...and the author does a great job in creating that mix right here. From a girl that lives on a fairly self-sustaining homestead to the peppy Cheer Squad leader with more substance than it may first seem and a lot more in-between, they're an eclectic bunch but memorable all the more for it.
4. The emotions cast are felt full force...even the first blush of teenage love and potential heartbreak. While not breaking new ground with the inclusion of a love life (potentially) for Evie, the way it is approached is somewhat "different" (there's that word again) as it doesn't take center stage in the story and yet it's positive and negative reprucussions are clearly felt. It's a blur of new emotions mixed with anxiety and a little self-doubt but something that comes with life and Evie is well equipped to handle it.
In short (okay, so this was anything but short...sorry!), this BOOK is different...not in the fantastical elements used sort of way, but in the reality of the events and situations presented, the strength of the beliefs put forth, and the possibilities left open like a warm sunny day. It's a fiction book, yes...but one that will have you thinking of all the real life applications long after you finish the final page. A great read indeed and one I'd certainly recommend though in regards to the age level, I'd say the "12 - 16 years old" audience they were aiming for is just about as young as I would go. There are a few sensually tinged scenes and the concepts explored may be a little over the heads of readers younger than the intended group, but that doesn't mean it can't wait on their wish lists in the mean time. As for adult readers, come one...come all. In fact, a read of this book may open up a few doors of conversations to be had with those younger folks around you. From the "hard talks" to their social awareness, there are many jumping points to take note of.
Peachtree Publishers. (THANKS!) For more information on this title as well as their full catalog of amazing adventures, be sure to check out their site, their blog, their Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter! (Gotta love publisher's who are accessible... ^_^) To discover more about author J.J. Johnson and her current happenings, visit her website, GoodReads page, or friend her on Facebook. Curious to sample the book before you buy it? Check out the excerpt via the publisher's website for a taste.
Until next time...happy reading!