Thursday, July 12, 2012
Book #37: Between the Lines
Between the Lines is a brand new (I believe it came out last month) YA novel written by the amazing Jodi Picoult and her daughter, Samantha Van Leer. I was excited to read a different kind of novel by Picoult with the addition of her daughter's ideas. This book is very much a YA novel. It doesn't have the depth that Never Fall Down or Looking for Alaska have, yet it is still a worthwhile, entertaining read.
Between the Lines is the story of 15-year-old Delilah. She stumbled upon a children's fairy tale book at her school library (titled the same as the novel) and becomes obsessed with it. She identifies with the main character, Prince Oliver, because both of them grew up without a father, and they are around the same age. Also, based on the pictures in the book, Delilah has a little crush on Oliver. She hides the book for fear of becoming more of a social outcast than she already is, but indulges in it when she is alone, and lets her imagination run wild.
However silly Delilah may seem for being so into a child's tale, the story runs deeper. Have you ever wondered what happens when you close a book? While you're reading anything from Goodnight Moon to War and Peace, the story will take you on a journey to places you may have never been, and you can meet characters that you'd never find in real life. But what happens when you're taking a break after a chapter, or have finished the book, and close it? It turns out that Between the Lines tells a story similar to the famous "Toy Story" films; after a reader closes a book, the characters come alive. Every time someone opens the book, they rush into place to tell the story the reader is expecting. But "offstage" when the book is closed, the characters live out their real lives. So, when the book is closed, the handsome price Oliver isn't really in love with the beautiful princess he rescued. The "bad guy" is actually an accomplished artist, and Oliver's "noble steed" suffers from self-image issues.
However fun and interesting the characters' "offstage" life may be, Oliver has always wondered about the world that lies outside of the story that he acts out over and over. When Oliver and Delilah suddenly make a connection, both of their world are turned upside down. They fall for one another, but there is the problem of Oliver being held captive by his own story. Together, Delilah and Oliver try to free the prince from the story so that they can have their own happily ever after.
Though this description may sound a bit childish, the book is definitely worth reading. It's a quick read, and it takes you back to the time that you believed in fairy tales (if you don't still now haha). The writing is occasionally accompanied by gorgeous color drawings of the fairy tale world, or black and white silhouettes in the margins that were cool to look at. I loved the "Toy Story" aspect of what happens within the pages of an unopened book. It's interesting to consider this actually happening in any of the books you've ever read. When you close the pages of a book do Harry and Voldemort sit down and have tea together? Does Juliet get sick of Romeo's overly romantic and dramatic nature? Is Dracula just a misunderstood, kindred spirit who can never get a tan? I loved imagining the secret lives of beloved characters that reside on my bookshelves.
It was also interesting to see a different side of Picoult's writing. True, she co-authored this novel with her 15-year-old daughter, but it was an interesting combination of Picoult's suspense and emotions seen in her adult novels, and Van Leer's young yet mature vision of real life versus fairy tales. I hope that the mother-daughter duo continue to write more novels together. Between the Lines was a fun, entertaining read that kept you laughing and intrigued.