Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: Same Difference

Title: Same Difference
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Push (Scholastic Inc.), 2009
First read: January 12th, 2011
Page total: 287 pages
Genres: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction

When I was a kid, I drew clouds that looked like the bodies of cartoon sheep.

Synopsis: 16-year-old Emily doesn't want another summer of tanning and sitting at a pool in her hometown, Cherry Grove. So when the opportunity offers, she signs up for an art program in Philadelphia to spend her time with art few hours a day, three days a week.
Emily soon realizes it's not easy to discover yourself, even when she is in another town with new friends. Torn between the city where everybody tries to be unique and her hometown where everybody tries to blend in, Emily struggles to find her own identity.

Wow! Was this a great book! It shows that life is full of possibilities. How to let go of the fears of emerging from a crowd and become yourself. There is a fine line between modesty and hiding one's true talent. And that's what our protagonist finds out as well.

Admittedly, I was in the first half of the book and didn't know what to make of it. Emily was painfully shy and passive, and someone like Fiona -crazy, passionate, defensive-of-her-art Fiona- was exactly some input she needed. She finally let go of the illusion to have to blend in and emerges from her shell. I loved watching her grow up like that. Siobhan Vivian did an amazing job at capturing the up-side-down change in Emily's life.
Of course, then there's the art aspect. I've never been a great artist (it's more my sister's thing) but to defend myself, I'm a great reader. Anyway, art has in this book an important meaning. Art is a way to express yourself and while Emily was definitely talented, she tended to draw normal things. You know, a sketch of a mug, of your best friend's face. At the art program, Emily learns there's a way to truly express her feelings through her drawings, through what she creats. You can literally feel how the realization sinks into her, how she lets herself get inspired from the city, from her fellow students and from Fiona.
But that's not all. During the few weeks she spends surrounded by art, Emily not only discovers her true talent, but she also learns what it means to be a friend to somebody, or to be a big sister. Being friends with someone isn't easy, in my opinion, especially when everybody in your town has known you forever and expects you to become someone like them. Meg is a sweet person and has been best friends with Emily for years, but unlike Emily she's content with what she has. So she doesn't understand why Emily is struggling to become someone else, not realizing that this someone else is the true side of her best friend.
Then there's the friendship between her and Fiona. But I'll let you find it out yourself.
The book also shows it's hard to get past the prejudices like Emily's parents needed some time to get adjusted to the new Emily and how she views the world now.

The end of the book is definitely an open one, which I loved by the way, which is very rare of me to say so. But the reason why it's an exception is because it also leaves so many possibilities of what may happen.
It still makes my heart warm, thinking about it. Leaving me hopeful.


Anonymous said...

That's an amazing review, Gin, now I want to read this asap

Ginny said...

Thank you, Leo!
I adored this book and can't wait to read Siobhan Vivian's other YA book, Not That Kind of Girl!!

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