by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Review by Brenna B. (demiducky25)
Although she’s been a past recipient of the Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association for an adult book with teenage appeal (My Sister’s Keeper), this latest endeavor by Jodi Picoult is her first young adult novel. Written in conjunction with her teenage daughter, Samantha Van Leer, Picoult delves into the realm of fairy tale and fantasy in order to tell a modern love story (Picoult notes in the intro that Samantha came up with the story and they decided to write it together).
Briefly summarized, a high school student named Delilah is a social outcast (in part due to accidentally breaking the leg of the head cheerleader during gym class the year before the events in the story) and although she has a best friend named Jules who is an outsider by choice, Delilah prefers to spend her time in the company of books. One day she comes across the children’s fairy tale Between the Lines and finds herself drawn to this story for reasons she can’t initially explain. She believes it’s because she can identify with the main character, Oliver, a prince who also grew up without a father just like Delilah, but she’ll soon find out it’s more than that.
It’s not once upon a time. It’s not even twice upon a time. It’s hundreds of times, over and over, every time someone opens up the pages of this dusty old book.
The above quote is noted by Oliver, the main character in the fairy tale Between the Lines. He lives in a world where he is forced to perform the same story over and over again every time, falling in “love” with the princess he really can’t stand and his best friend secretly loves, and he doesn’t understand why no one else in the story feels the way that he feels. Although he is “unscripted” when the book is closed, he wants to find a way to escape the story so that he can live the life he witnesses through glimpses of the Readers. He just needs to find the right Reader willing to listen and realize that he doesn’t belong in this story anymore. When Delilah discovers that she can hear Oliver she wants to help him escape, though they soon learn that it’s not going to be an easy task. They start getting to know each other and fall in love, but what kind of life could they have together if they are stuck in different worlds?
Although this book is marketed to young adults, it really could be enjoyed by younger readers and is even suitable to read aloud much in the way that Harry Potter books have been read aloud. There’s no sex, only “cartoon” violence, and if there was any bad language I can’t recall it. The illustrations that go with the book, both the silhouettes that are scattered throughout the pages and the full page paintings that tell Oliver’s fairy tale really add to the enjoyment of this book. I enjoyed learning about Oliver’s world when the book is closed and the characters aren’t forced to perform (think Toy Story when Andy’s not in the room). Each character has interests and personalities far different from what their stage personas are. I think I enjoyed that aspect of the story the most. Overall this is a cute book, though a bit predictable since as you go along you can easily figure out what’s going to happen- though that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the read. I’m also not the target audience, so someone younger will probably enjoy this book a bit more since it is a very sweet and innocent tale. This was a solid effort by Jodi Picoult and a great start to her daughter Samantha Van Leer’s writing career.
My rating- 3 ½ out of 5 stars