Publisher: Viking Children's
Release: March 15, 2012
Jesse cuts her own hair with a Swiss Army knife. She wears big green fisherman's boots. She's the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. Emily wears sweaters with faux pearl buttons. She's vice president of the student council. She has a boyfriend.The Difference Between You and Me is an intriguing depiction of relationships: between people, and between people and society. This book is not just a story about Emily and Jesse's love; it is an insightful look into love in general, whether it be between friends, family members, soul mates, or those whose love has been lost. I was a bit worried going into the novel that I would get an overload of Emily/Jesse romance, but this was not the case at all.
These two girls have nothing in common, except the passionate "private time" they share every Tuesday afternoon. Jesse wishes their relationship could be out in the open, but Emily feels she has too much to lose. When they find themselves on opposite sides of a heated school conflict, they each have to decide what's more important: what you believe in, or the one you love?
I quickly realized that the other aspects of the story were focused on as much as the girls secret trysts. In fact, Emily and Jesse could have just been friends being torn apart by their opposing views and the book still would have worked. Readers don't get too many glimpses into their "private time," as Madeleine George chose to focus more on their feelings for each other. I also appreciated how George included family scenes, which provided a look at the characters' family dynamics. The plot is very well-rounded, which I thought was a very good thing.
The author's approach to the style of narration really helps to accomplish this. I fully expected The Difference Between You and Me to be told in alternating viewpoints, switching back and forth between Emily's and Jesse's points of view. Although the two main characters did get a chance to tell the story, there was another narrator as well: a girl named Esther, Jesse's friend and fellow activist. Her chapters helped to spotlight the family, friendship, and political aspects of the story. Her dating life is never discussed, and it doesn't need to be; she and Jesse are simply friends, working together to stand up for a cause they both believe in.
The Difference Between You and Me is an empowering story about finding yourself, making a difference, and falling in and out of love. I adored it, and you won't have to be a fan of romance to adore it as well.