Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Publication Date: June 26th, 2012
Format: ARC, 358 pages courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
What happens when happily ever after…isn’t?
Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.
And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.
Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

I don’t know how much input Jodi had on this book, but if Samantha did majority of the writing, then I say, well done. I don’t care what everyone says, Samantha’s writing is still a hundred times better than some of the authors out there. The plot is ingenious, clever and highly imaginative. The mother and daughter duo truly cooked up a story that will push readers to stretch their imagination.

Have you ever wondered what the characters of the book you just read do when you finish reading? Well, nothing of course. The book has ended. It’s over. FINITO. But what if that’s not really the case? Have you ever wondered how tedious it is to be saying and doing the same things over and over like some Groundhog Day nightmare? And what if there was a way to leave the fantasy and they’re able to come to life? I’ve never really given it much thought until I started reading this book.

I have to admit that it threw me off at first, but a few pages later, it wasn’t so confusing as I’d thought it would be. Basically, there are two stories running at the same time; the fairy tale and behind the scenes of the fairy tale. And in the backdrop of the story is Delilah McPhee – a teen who primarily lives in her head. It’s hard not to blame the girl when her real life doesn’t really offer her much. She’s a loner and to some, a loser. Typical teenage angst, you say? No. Not really. Her struggles are pretty mild compared to some novels with the same theme. She just couldn’t fit in. But the other kids left her well enough alone. Unfortunately, that is her problem. The loneliness. So why wouldn’t she take the company of a book instead of real people? Things got weird when, as if by playful illusions, the prince in the book started conversing with her.

You’d think that this novel would be a mess, considering all the stories that are going on at the same time. But it’s not. I didn’t have a hard time separating the real story from the fairy tale. Like I said, I don’t know how big of a contributor Jodi was, but I’m guessing she had a lot of input in the direction of where the story should go. So it was a surprise to me when I’m a little disappointed by how some of the elements to the story were sort of left frayed and un-seamed. Oliver was supposed to be gutless, having not been bestowed the gift of courage. But I don’t know, he seemed pretty gutsy to me. Sure he used his smarts with every challenges he faced but it still showed plenty of bravery just to even attempt to save the princess. Edgar was a random character who ended up being the hero. It didn’t make sense to me that after all of what Oliver and Delilah have been through, it turned out that they weren’t the one who’d be able to save themselves after all. I don’t know, I thought that this could’ve been handled in another way. Ultimately, the ending became a rush job because of the insertion of this character.

VERDICT: Over all, I think Between the Lines would be an appropriate MG read. In fact, I think my daughter, who’s ten, would be probably enjoy this. Regardless of my complaints, I maintained that this book is highly entertaining and unique. I just wish that we’re able to see how Oliver and Delilah’s fairy tale ends though.

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