Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Is there anything Jodi Picoult can’t write, and write well? I submit that the answer is “No, she’s sheer writing perfection.” Her adult novels are timely, extensively researched, and full of relatable characters, including her most recent bestseller Lone Wolf. Her first published play, written with her son Jake, Over the Moon, was hilarious and I hope to see a staged version of this some day. And now she’s entered the world of young adult literature, partnered with her daughter, Samantha, in Between the Lines.

Delilah is your typical un-popular teenager. She’s struggling with high school, and all the cliques and stresses that go along with it. She’s also dealing with the abandonment of her father, and how that affects both she and her mother. Even though Delilah has her best friend, Jules, she still feels alone in a lot of ways, and finds her escape in books. The one book she’s embarrassed to admit she enjoys reading over and over again is Between the Lines, a children’s fairy tale she found in the library.

What Delilah learns about Between the Lines is that it’s not like other books; the characters in the story are alive, and she begins communicating with Prince Oliver. Oliver, along with the other characters in the fairy tale are very aware of their roles in the story, and happily play along when someone opens the book, and then returns to their “true” persona after it’s closed. Oliver wants more, and is convinced he can be free if only someone would notice him.

When Delilah and Oliver begin communicating, he convinces her to help him escape the fairy tale. He’s sick of living the same life over and over again, and wants to see what life in the real world could be like for him. Delilah agrees, because Oliver, while fictional, is the only person who truly understands her.

Just like in Picoult’s adult novels, the chapters rotate between characters, so readers get a true understanding of everyone’s thoughts and emotions, making for a more fulfilling read. The characters are authentic, and Picoult has done an excellent job making Delilah sound like an actual teenage girl (I’m guessing Van Leer played a big part in the writing of those scenes), and she makes age-appropriate pop-culture references, including The Hunger Games.

My favorite characters were the secondary characters in the fairy tale. I loved Oliver’s best friend, Frump, who is very much a human who just happens to be a dog. He’s secretly in love with Oliver’s story love interest, Seraphima. I also loved Oliver’s horse Socks, who has no self-confidence and convinced he’s grossly overweight. These two played a big role for me in the comedic relief.

While it seems every new young adult writer, and even some already established ones, are jumping on the paranormal bandwagon, Picoult and Van Leer have created an excellent story for readers of all ages without including a single vampire or werewolf, and I must say I am very thankful to them for that. From the romance to the fairy tale within the book to the characterization to everything in between, Picoult and Van Leer make an excellent writing team. I hope this is just the first of many future joint young adult ventures.


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