The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist (Penguin - Dutton Juvenile) is one of the most interesting—and frustrating—books I read this year. Veronika is a girl; she lives on the island with her three sisters and Irene and Robbert. The girls’ parents died in a plane crash, and now, every day, they learn about learning…in a way that will tweak the brains of philosophers. They are observed, and they obey, and they struggle with a new idea: you must obey, but you must also decide.
When May washes up on the shore, after a storm that disrupts the supply boat schedule, the girls must unravel this mystery: who is the different one? Or are they not different, any of them?
The Different Girl draws from classic SF in a way that many YA books don’t in that it brings science and technology to the forefront, and it doesn’t wrap things up neatly, which is both a feature and a bug.
What makes this book tick:
- Really, really trusts the reader.
- Philosophical questions are embedded here; a good book for that reader who still asks "Why?"
- An open ending (perhaps it’s a series; I prefer this as a standalone) that leaves room for discussion and imagination.
- Asks: what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be different, and how is that constructed?