Okay, so last week I made a declaration that I was giving up fiction for a while. Which was going well but then I saw a book while grocery shopping that stopped me in my tracks. I’m not going to lie, I’m not a fan of books written by two authors. I find them detached and there’s often problems with the pace, in my opinion. So, when I saw a hardcover novel written by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, I rolled my eyes. Picking it up, though, I learned that the second author is actually Jodi Picoult’s daughter. And after reading the inner flap, the story’s originality punched me right in the face, which felt surprisingly good.
So, with a moderate amount of expectation, I started reading.
A little under four hours later, I was finished.
Here are the reasons why you should read this book:
1. It’s about fairy tales. Not an interpretation of a fairy tale but a NEW fairy tale. And not one about some handsome prince who rides in on a white horse to save the day. Err…actually, there is a handsome prince…and he does ride a white horse, but that’s where the similarities to other fairy tales ends. You see, the prince, named Oliver, is trapped inside the fairy tale. Forced to act through the plot, time and time again to the delight of Readers (people who are reading the book), Prince Oliver desperately wants to escape the confines of the pages. The only problem? He’s kind of a coward. Yup, the big-time Princey-pants is a big old scardy-cat.
2. There’s a fantastic MC named Delilah and she’s the only Reader of the story who’s ever been able to hear Prince Oliver’s cries for help. I love a strong female character and Delilah’s perfect because she’s brave but also vulnerable, funny, loving and, in many ways, a typical teenager. Oh yeah, I guess I should have mentioned this earlier, but this book is categorized as YA.
3. You get two perspectives: Delilah’s and Prince Oliver’s. Delilah’s takes place in the “real world” while Prince Oliver’s is in the fairy tale. There’s a third POV, but it's the fairy tale itself, and it keeps things moving steadily. Sounds confusing, but the premise of the book is that the characters are acting in a play while a Reader is reading and, when the book is closed, the characters have other lives. Such a cool idea, right?
4. I never had any idea where the story was going to go next. There were many twists and turns but they were all very well explained and flowed fluidly from one scene to the next.
5. Although this book is meant for YA audiences, I was able to sympathize with both Delilah and Prince Oliver. The language was mature while remaining authentic and I liked that the teen angst angle wasn’t overplayed.
As with everything, there were a few things I didn’t like but they didn’t have much to do with the story so I won’t get into them (although I will say that it makes me sad when feminists are depicted as man-haters (insert sad face) ).
So, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Jodi Picoult and her daughter, Samantha Van Leer, make a pretty dynamic writing team. There’s a small introduction, written by Ms. Picoult, which explains that Between the Lines truly was a collaborative effort that took over two years to complete. I was still a bit skeptical but after reading it, I’m a believer. All of the things I like about Picoult's books - the world building, character development and dialogue - were in full effect but the addition of Ms. Van Leer made the tone a bit lighter.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I'm going to recommend this book as a MUST READ! Perfect for a summer day but also for a rainy one. Yeah, it's multi-talented like that. Just like the Picoult family.