ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published February 21, 2013. Dutton Books (Penguin Group). 230 pp.
Veronika narrates her story of life on an island in the middle of nowhere with her adoptive parents Irene and Robbert, and her friends Caroline, Isobel and Eleanor. They were told their parents’ planes crashed long ago so have settled into a daily routine with Irene and Robbert, two scientists who survived the crash along with them. Every day they are taught new skills in their indoor and outdoor classrooms, learning to question and think through what they see and what they don’t see, and tested on various skills which Robbert carefully records in a little notebook.
Things change when Veronika discovers the unconscious body of May, a young girl who survived a shipwreck. When May is nursed back to health, Veronika realizes they have many differences. The family she had always taken for granted seems different somehow, and May seems to know the answers. Veronika had never really thought for herself before, but with May there she finds herself thinking more and more out of the box. Despite not having had any interference from the outside world beyond the island for years, it suddenly seems to want to intrude on their world. It doesn’t take long for the life Veronika had always known to change forever.
I thought “The Different Girl” was a bit on the strange side, and left more questions than it answered. Eventually I understood why the girls were on the island, but never quite grasped what the author was trying to say through his book, nor why the events that occurred near the end did so in the first place. Maybe other readers in the 12-14 year age bracket might make something out of it, and find what I missed. I’m still scratching my head.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want to Read it or Not.