Lynn: One of the challenges about reviewing a book like The Different Girl (Penguin/Dutton 2013) is in not spoiling the experience for everyone else! The X-factor really isn’t difficult to figure out but, for me at least, a lot of the interest of the book came from spotting the clues and thinking about each new piece to the puzzle as I moved along. There is so much that Dahlquist doesn’t ever tell us but I think that works really well with central exploration of what IS intelligence, how do we define that and other spoiler-revealing issues I don’t want to mention. As a whole this is a book that I think teens will love and that will lead to fabulous discussions.
Here’s the plain-as-possible summary: Four young girls and two adults live on an other-wise uninhabited island. The narrator, Veronika, describes the routines of her days and tells us about the 3 other girls, distinguishing them by the color of their hair. They wake up, they go about chores and school, they take walks and follow instructions from the two adults, Irene and Robbert. Then a 5th girl washes up on the beach after a storm and is found by Veronika. May is different and her arrival is the catalyst for all that follows.
Veronika’s voice has an odd and interesting cadence and at first I felt a bit off-balance because of it but I quickly settled in couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Thought-provoking and unsettling, this is a different book indeed. And – what a terrific book to use for a teen book club! The discussion would be unstoppable.