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Same Difference


Same Difference

For 16 years, Emily hasn’t known much more than life beyond her hometown of Cherry Grove, New Jersey. But change is in the air the summer before her senior year in high school. 

Emily and her best friend Meg have always spent the summers together. They live right across the street from each other in the gated community of Blossom Manor. Typical summer days are full of trips to pools or visits to Starbucks for frozen peppermint mochas. But this year is different. For the first time, Emily won’t be around every day. Instead, she’ll be traveling by herself to a prestigious art school in Philadelphia to take classes. This summer, the girls --- whose “names are always mushed together in conversation around school, like MegandEmily” --- will be split. Emily believes Meg will be just fine. She has a popular boyfriend, Rick, to occupy her time anyway. Emily thinks, “I needed a break from it all, and taking some art classes in Philadelphia a few times a week was as good an idea as any I could think of. Meg got a boyfriend and I got a hobby. That’s just the way things worked out.”

But in Philly, Emily feels completely out of her element. The other kids in her program are all arty and hip and not quite as suburban looking as she is. One of the girls, Fiona, is obsessed with “shadow art” and loves sketching chalk outlines of shadows all over the sidewalks. Fiona’s art statements are as outlandish as her personality. Robyn aka “Pixie Girl,” and Adrian, a freakishly skinny comic book-loving boy, instantly become friends with Fiona. Meanwhile, Emily feels left out and alone. To make matters worse, Fiona isn’t very nice to Emily and even mocks her because of where she’s from. And then there’s Yates, a cute teaching assistant in his freshman year at the school, who Emily makes a surprising first impression on. 

Despite her initial cruelty, Fiona decides to warm up to Emily. Along with Robyn and Adrian, they go to Philadelphia art shows and concerts. Emily’s world has been broadened, and she starts to see herself differently --- not as Emily from Cherry Grove, New Jersey, but as someone else. And when Meg and Rick react to her sketches in a not-so-nice way, Emily begins to wonder if she wants any of her former life anymore. But as the summer unfolds, friendships new and old are put to the test and it’s up to Emily to decide who she really wants to be. 

SAME DIFFERENCE is a realistic young adult novel about the struggle for identity and self-discovery. Author Siobhan Vivian has created a likable protagonist who finds herself in a tug-of-war between her old life and her new one. Readers will enjoy seeing how Emily deals with crazy Fiona, loveable Yates and best friend Meg. The Philadelphia College for Fine Arts setting is authentic and an enjoyable backdrop for a summer filled with a lot of learning about both art and life.

Reviewed by Kristi Olson on March 1, 2009

Same Difference
by Siobhan Vivian

  • Publication Date: November 25, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • ISBN-10: 0545758025
  • ISBN-13: 9780545758024