cover image The Difference Between You and Me

The Difference Between You and Me

Madeleine George. Viking, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-670-01128-5

It doesn’t make sense that radical 15-year-old Jesse—who plasters her high school’s walls with “Normalcy is Death” manifestoes—could be smitten with buttoned-up student council v-p Emily. It makes even less sense that Emily, who has a steady boyfriend, has reciprocal feelings for outspoken Jesse. But when the two girls meet in secret, all reason flies out the window (“Kissing Emily is literally the best thing Jesse has ever done. In her life. There is no feeling more right or perfect”). In a frank and funny account of opposites attracting, George (Looks) provides remarkable insight into teenage romance, alternating between the girls’ perspectives as she conveys their uncertainties and traces their growing political awareness. When Emily and Jesse end up on opposite sides of a heated battle to keep big business out of the community, Emily manages to keep her conflicting interests compartmentalized, but the pressure is getting to Jesse. Rather than offering easy answers about love, lust, and politics, George recognizes teenage vulnerabilities and promotes taking a stand. Strong, empathetic characterizations and whip-smart writing make this a seriously enjoyable read. Ages 12–up. Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. (Mar.)