The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist
Summary: Veronika lives on an island with three other girls who are like her, along with two caretakers. The girls cook meals, explore the island, and take classes with the people who care for them (the latter usually involves a lot of question-answering). But their quiet life is interrupted when Veronika finds a girl—a different girl—washed up on the shore.
My thoughts: Written in an almost stream-of-consciousness style, The Different Girl is, well, different. The prose is at times poetic and at others tough to slough through. Either way, it’s a unique experience.
Gordon Dahlquist’s writing style also allows for a great deal of thought to be put into every scene. There’s symbolism aplenty in The Different Girl, though it’s not always easy to pick out. The story itself is difficult to place, too—little hints of what’s truly going on a dropped sparsely throughout the novel. But I think that’s what makes The Different Girl a page-turner: the excitement that lies beneath the seemingly ordinary surface.
I anticipate that The Different Girl will turn away readers because of its detachment from its characters. You won’t connect with them; I can almost guarantee it. Still, I never found myself disappointed by that fact. I was too captivated by the mystery of the writing style (and the mystery of the story itself) to care.
The Different Girl might not be the book for everyone, but it’s certainly one that everyone should try, if not just to experience its strangeness. The back of the book stays that readers will “learn to think differently” through reading The Different Girl. This is very true.
Comment question: How do you feel about stream-of-consciousness books?