GOOD DIFFERENT, by Meg Eden Kuyatt, Scholastic Press, April 4, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 8-12)
A neurodivergent girl learns that her differences are what make her special in Good Different, a new MG novel, by Meg Eden Kuyatt.
Selah knows her rules for being normal.
She always, always sticks to them. This means keeping her feelings locked tightly inside, despite the way they build up inside her as each school day goes on, so that she has to run to the bathroom and hide in the stall until she can calm down. So that she has to tear off her normal-person mask the second she gets home from school, and listen to her favorite pop song on repeat, trying to recharge. Selah feels like a dragon stuck in a world of humans, but she knows how to hide it.
Until the day she explodes and hits a fellow student.
Selah’s friends pull away from her, her school threatens expulsion, and her comfortable, familiar world starts to crumble.
But as Selah starts to figure out more about who she is, she comes to understand that different doesn’t mean damaged. Can she get her school to understand that, too, before it’s too late? —Synopsis provided by Scholastic Press
Good Different is one of those books that holds wide appeal — even though it’s about a girl whose brain processes things differently than others. Because most kids will relate to at least some of the same experiences. Crowds are too big. Noises are too loud. Not wanting to be touched.
This novel-in-verse is one that sticks with you.
Author Meg Eden Kuyatt’s use of verse itself makes her book stand out. She mirrors Seleh’s differences through thoughtful prose that pushes and pulls you along with the story.
Seleh is engaging. Her push to learn about herself is inspiring, heartbreaking and heartwarming. She’s the kind of character that you want your kid to be friends with.
Good Different is a fast read — I finished it in one sitting — that will challenge readers to look beyond themselves. It’s excellent.
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