BOOK JACKET BLURB: Jesse cuts her own hair with a Swiss Army knife. She wears big green fisherman’s boots. She’s the founding (and only) member of NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. Emily wears sweaters with faux pearl buttons. She’s vice president of the student council. She has a boyfriend. These two girls have nothing in common, except a passionate secret attraction to one another. Jesse wishes their relationship could be out in the open, but Emily feels she has too much to lose. When they find themselves on opposite sides of a heated school conflict, they’re each forced to decide what’s more important: what you believe in, or the one you love?
Published by Viking Children’s Books, 2012, $16.99
Also published as e-book, $13.99
Agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House
Out and somewhat proud, Jesse surreptitiously posts manifestos on the walls and hallways of Vander High, promoting her organization, NOLAW–the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. One problem: she’s the only member. She touts her own weirdness, wearing green fisherman’s boots to school every day and cutting her hair with a Swiss Army knife. She is deeply infatuated with student council VP Emily, who appears to have the perfect ponytail and the perfect boyfriend, but who also meets Jesse every Tuesday afternoon in the third-floor bathroom of the public library for an intense make-out session. George writes the novel from three alternating perspectives: Jesse’s, Emily’s, and Esther’s. Esther, a fellow student at Vander, whom Jesse meets on trash detail after both students are apprehended for disruptive behavior at school, is an activist and free spirit. Esther’s and Emily’s chapters are written in first-person, but Jesse’s chapters are written in third-person. I found this confusing, though I expected I would understand that choice by the end of the novel. That didn’t happen. I could not tease out a reason for Jesse’s chapters not to be in first-person, when the other voices used “I.” This is a question I would like to ask George.
The novel has successful moments: the descriptions of the make-out sessions in the library bathroom are sensual, realistic, and compelling, but the tone of these scenes is inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the novel. Jesse is a likable enough character and her crush on Emily is believable. Emily’s voice, however, is doltish. She seems remarkably unaware, not just in denial. She reminds me of the Tracy character Reese Witherspoon played in “Election.” Overall, I found this novel only mildly interesting. Neither the characters nor the plot seemed well-drawn enough, though there is potential. The stakes just need to be higher for everyone.
Publishers Weekly, March 15, 2012