Pebblecreek Academy is the kind of place where Selah feels comfortable, a place she describes as like “a pair of favorite shoes” that feel special and important. She’s attended school there every year until seventh grade, and she loves being around her friends.
One of the things Selah likes best about Pebblecreek is that she knows the rules of what to wear and how to act and how to get along with everyone. But in seventh grade that starts to change. Life is sometimes overwhelming for Selah. Too much noise and too much stimulation make her want to roar like the dragon she feels like on the inside.
Selah mostly keeps her feelings and actions tightly controlled until she gets home and can relax. But one day too much stimulation in the classroom pushes her to explode, and she hits one of her friends. Suddenly everything she thinks she knows about her school and her friends is in question.
Meg Eden Kuyatt’s novel in verse, Good Different, is a great coming-of-age story about a neurodivergent girl who knows she’s different, but who worries that means people won’t like her. Little by little she learns about who she is and what she needs to succeed in the classroom and at home. She also learns to trust her friends to like her even when they see beneath the facade she has worn for so long.
Kuyatt’s verse unfolds gently, revealing the struggles Selah faces as well as her strengths. In an author’s note at the end, she candidly discusses her own path to understand the way she was different, and that she was diagnosed with autism during college. She talks about how getting a diagnosis is especially difficult for females, who are often good at blending in with their peers. The author has also included a list of tools and resources for people who seek more information.
Good Different is beautifully written and important not only for people who are neurodivergent, but also for their friends, families, schoolmates, teachers, and anyone else who sees them regularly. I highly recommend it.
The author provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.