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The Difference Between You and Me

The Difference Between You and Me - Madeleine George Find this review and more at BOOK BRATSI admit, it was a negative review that led me to purchase THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME, the debut contemporary YA novel by Madeleine George. Someone (I forget who) referred to it as too realistic in its portrayal of a high school relationship. Too realistic?! Well, that sold me, even if the person did only give it one or two stars. Besides, it met some other characteristics I love in a novel – diversity (it follows a lesbian main character), a quirky premise, and a liberal bias. Hey, what can I say? I dislike Walmart (but shop there because it sadly ran everyone else out).LIES, BETRAYAL, AND SECRET KISSESFollowing two girls – one an out and proud lesbian, the other a closeted girl hiding behind her boyfriend – who engage in weekly make-out secret sessions at a local library, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME is definitely not going to be for everyone. For one, yes, it is rather liberal. For another, it is about a GLBT relationship. And finally, it is told in a rather strange narrative style – third person present for our heroine, and first person present for the two girls in her life.No, I wouldn’t call this a love triangle, so don’t worry about that.I liked this one because of its honesty and quirkiness. There is not instant happiness. There is lust, there are demands and pressures, there are lies, there are attempts at meaningful discussion instead turned into arguments. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME is indeed very realistic in how it portrays a teenage romance. There are butterflies in stomachs and kisses, but there are also plenty of hurt feelings, lies, betrayals, and sad moments.HOW REAL CAN YOUNG ADULT FICTION GET?The way that George writes the story I found to be odd, but at the same time, and partly due to its short length, the narrative pulled me along. I wanted to know more about Jesse and her life and her family that seemed kind of like mine (minus the breast cancer). I wanted to know more about the girls in her life – her girly secret girlfriend Emily and her new accidental friend Esther, especially as we delve into their lives. Even though Emily and Esther are both given chapters of their own focusing on their narratives, this is indeed Jesse’s story through and through. She is our main character, our focus, and our heroine in the battle of girl versus world.One issue I did have a rather large problem with, though, was Emily, also known as the clone of Tracy Flick from the book/movie ELECTION. You know, the one played by Reese Witherspoon like 15 years ago.From her interests to her goals to her personality and beyond, Emily is Tracy Flick, except with a lesbian lover once a week on Tuesday afternoons. Jesse, though, I loved. She is strong-willed and determined, especially once she meets Esther and begins to see the world outside her bubble. The book defines her first as a lesbian, but at her core she is just a girl who wants to stand up for herself and be allowed to be who she is – strange, quirky, rebellious, and eager.But to tell you how this book is realistic would spoil it. Even though I probably already have if you’re deductive and note that I keep saying it’s realistic. Damn.Would I recommend THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME? Probably, with exceptions. If you don’t mind a liberal agenda, then definitely read this. If you don’t mind strange storytelling, then go ahead. If you are conservative and don’t like GLBT stories, ehm… Skip it. But I really did enjoy what George gave us in her debut, and I can’t wait to read more by her in the hopeful near future.VERDICT: Even though the chosen writing style isn’t the easiest to navigate, and the secondary character/love interest is annoying, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME is honest and refreshing and warming. Recommended with a few reservations.