by Madeleine George
Each teen should be able to find a reflection of themselves within the books that they read, and that’s why The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George is an important addition to Young Adult Literature. The book follows the story of two girls; Jesse is an outcast who is constantly trying to “stick it to the man”; Emily is the popular girl working to be the perfect “Future Business Woman of America”. They couldn’t be more different, but they secretly meet every Tuesday in the public library’s second floor bathroom for a hot and heavy make-out session. But once out of the bathroom, they never acknowledge each other. However, through events happening in their town, this “relationship” changes over the course of the book into something neither girl saw coming.
These two girls are going through a difficult period, both sexually and mentally. Trying to identify who you are, what your values are, and how best to live your life is hard enough for adults, let alone teenagers. George does an excellent job juxtaposing Jesse and Emily, which highlight the struggle. Jesse knows who she is sexually; she knows she is attracted to females, but she isn’t sure what her true values are. Emily is confident in what she stands for; she sees opportunity and takes it, but can’t decide if her feelings are for males, females, or both. Esther, a secondary character who befriends Jesse, acts as a tandem between the two. Esther knows exactly who she is and how she feels giving the reader a solid foundation to grasp.
While the character interaction is what makes the story sing, the most interesting part of the book was the writing. There are three characters telling the story: Jesse, Emily, and Esther. Emily’s and Esther’s chapters are told in 1st person, while Jesse’s chapters are told in 3rd person. George uses the 3rd person to distance Jesse for the readers, so they may experience her whole change, and the 1st person is used for Emily and Esther because they act as catalysts. In addition to getting a 3rd person view of Jesse’s change, the reader also then sees it through Emily and Esther’s eyes, helping the reader relate even more.