The last thing sixteen-year-old Emily wants is to pool hop and tan her way through another summer in Cherry Hill. Now that her best friend has a boyfriend, everything feels...different in a way Emily doesn't quite understand. So when offered a spot at a prestigious art program in Philadelphia, Emily jumps at the chance to leave her hometown for a few hours a day.
But it takes more than a change of scenery and a new group of friends to discover yourself. As Emily bounces between a suburb where everyone tries to fit in and a city where everyone wants to be unique, she struggles to find her own identity. And while the rules may change, the pressures remain the same. Friendships can be hard to navigate. Boys are both deeply mysterious and utterly predictable. And the line between right and wrong is always a little blurry.
(Summary from inside cover of ARC)
How can you not love Siobhan Vivian? Seriously. I follow both her personal blog and The Longstockings (not to sound creeper-ish), and everything she writes is just so alive and enjoyable. That being said, Same Difference was pretty dang good.
So you know how Sarah Dessen has a kind of trademarked romantic style/plot concept that's present in all of her books? Well for Siobhan, she's got a friendship style. In A Little Friendly Advice, her first book, she focused on the dynamics of the relationships between a group of girls. They were going through a difficult stage in their lives and in their friendship, and they all grew from it and became better people because of their experiences. In Same Difference it's the same sort of troubled friendship plot line but it's different enough that it feels fresh and unique.
In this book, the main character is going through a huge stage of self-discovery. She has to decide whether she wants to become a crazy artsy girl with the help of her new "friend" Fiona or whether she wants to stick with her roots and live a plain dreary life in Cherry Hill. But the book was so much more than that one little decision.
In the beginning, Emily had no idea who she was or who she wanted to be. Throughout the book she learned how to make new friends, create beautiful art, and still stay true to who she was at her core. She even got to have a little forbidden romance.
And that's the part that didn't work for me - the romance. Yates was Emily's teacher's assistant. He was two years older than her and didn't have much of a personality. Truthfully, they didn't have much, if any chemistry at all. It was just so flat. They were able to sit and draw pictures of each other but they weren't able to have a meaningful, colorful conversation. And the fact that he didn't see through Emily and Fiona's fake friendship doesn't do much for him.
Also, I didn't really get why Emily was dumb enough to stick with Fiona for the whole entire story. Fiona made her feel like crap and she was so caught up in her own stupid views that she couldn't take a minute to look around at the rest of the world. Emily seemed like a very bright, and genuine girl and the fact that she was sucked into Fiona's antics for almost the whole story was sort of a let-down.
But other than that, the book was good. The setting was extremely vivid, the conversations were true to life, and all the art lingo seemed really well researched and thought out to me.
And Emily was a very teen-like girl. She made some of the same dumb decisions that I would have if I was in her shoes and yet she still followed her heart. I liked how in the end she learned how to get the best out of both worlds - art land and suburbia. Also, I was super happy that she didn't ditch Meg. Because Meg was sooo cute. As was the fact that Emily's little sister was starting to get all artsy and defiant at the end of the book; she was following in her sister's footsteps. Aw!
There were just so many cute and fun little moments in this book that made me smile. It's such a great feel-good read.
My only advice to Siobhan Vivian would be to steer away from the romance in the future and focus more on the friendships. That's her strong point, I think. Although I do hope that there are some romantic moments in her next book because I want to see what she cooks up next. :)
I love Siobhan and I loved this book. Read it.
(Thank you to Sharon for the book. All the way from The Strand in NYC. You're amazing)
OH! And this is my 100th review...sorta cool, eh? :) The big one zero zero.