A Little Something Different (2014)
By Sandy Hall
A Little Something Different is the first book published by Swoon Reads and is Sandy Hall’s first novel. The story is about two college students, Lea and Gabe, who are taking the same creative writing course and are secretly crushing on each other. Both of the main characters are too shy to confess their feelings for one another, and convey some insecurity regarding on whether or not the other feels the same way. Yet everyone else believes that Gabe and Lea should be together.
When I began reading this novel, the questions I’ve kept asking in my mind was what makes this novel different from all the other YA novels I read and why did Swoon Reads picked this novel as their first book to be published.
The answer to those questions is perspectives. The unique aspect of this novel is that it is told in multiple point of views which is clearly stated on the book’s cover. Some of these perspectives include Lea’s roommate Maribel and the barista at Starbucks, Charlotte. Hall further demonstrates diverse perspectives on love through LGBT individuals as well as creatively imagining the thoughts of inanimate objects such as an outdoor bench. One of my favorite characters in the novel is Professor Inga, who attempts to get Lea and Gabe together through her writing assignments.
By using different perspectives, Hall experiments with the typical love story in many youth adult (YA) novels. Usually, YA novels tend to ignore the minor characters’ inner thoughts about the relationship progression between the two protagonists. Yet in Hall’s novel, these minor characters are now in the spotlight, conveying their personal feelings about Lea and Gabe’s relationship. A reader can easily relate to these minor characters because both are eager for the two to get together, and want to take action in igniting a spark between the couple.
Most of the love story is told through dialogue between characters. Through these accounts, a reader pieces together the love storyline between Gabe and Lea as well as the mystery behind Gabe’s insecurity, which plays as an important reason to why he is reluctant to talking to Lea.
Although dialogue progresses the storyline, there are crucial scenes in the story that seemed to be told too hastily. For example, when Gabe and Lea encountered each other at a college party, the incident is told through the viewpoints of Lea’s roommate, Maribel, and Gabe’s best friend, Casey, in which they described Gabe and Lea’s nervousness. Although a scene like this is conveyed in various perspectives, these accounts seemed a bit dry and redundant; where the point of views state explicit facts and recall the same exact details. It would have been nice at times, if the reader can understand the feelings of Lea and Gabe because it would have added more chemistry between the two. It would be interesting if Sandy Hall writes another novel showing Gabe’s and Lea’s point of views because there may be more relationship development.
Yet it is understandable why Sandy Hall does not describe Gabe’s and Lea’s inner feelings and thoughts. It seems that the main purpose of the novel is to demonstrate how a romance blossoms between two introverts through the views of various people. Thus, this is how A Little Something Different is unique and sets itself apart from other YA novels.