Teen Book Battle
The alternate title for either of these books could have been “Homeschooled by Hippies”. Now that the children of the Flower Power generation are all grown up, they’ve begun writing stories about their upbringing. Evidently, it wasn’t all peace, love and serenity. In order to raise a child right, you need to be a responsible adult who puts the welfare of your child before your own self-gratification. If you are going to homeschool your child, you should have a plan in place and a better reason for doing so, than than just opposition to the government.
In Alice, I Think by Susan Juby we have bright little Alice who is simply not prepared for the real world when she enters a public school after years of being homeschooled by her tie-dyed, mantra-chanting, vegan Mother and her artistic, guitar-playing slacker Dad. She tries desperately to fit into this new society even though she doesn’t know or understand all it’s rules, and is met with ridicule and violence. Eventually, she begins to discover just who she really is and learns to embrace her differences. When she begins to accept herself, others do too.
In This Girl is Different by J.J. Johnson, we have Evie. She is just as clueless about the real world as Alice. (Having been raised by a dome-dwelling, health food advocate who insists on being called Martha, not Mom.) However, Evie trys to change everyone else around her, instead of making adjustments to her own behavior in order to fit in. She finds out that everyone is different and has their own ideas about what is right. She learns that other points of view may be just as valid as her own.
I can’t really pick a clear winner between these two opposing scenarios about how people open themselves up to see a side of life that may be different from their own. Both are good. Both show that you can’t really know who you are until you can understand what you aren’t and know why.