'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 12 July 2012

Review: Between the Lines

15-year-old Delilah hates school as much as she loves books, especially the one-of-a-kind fairytale she found tucked away on the shelf of the school library. She knows she is too old for books like this, but she can’t resist the enchanting story.

It seems Delilah isn’t the only who wants a story with a happy ending. The storybook handsome prince longs for a chance to take control of his own destiny. Will Delilah and Prince Oliver find a way to help each other live Happily Ever After?

The idea for this sweet fairytale for older readers was conceived by 13-year-old Samantha van Leer, daughter of best-selling author Jodi Picoult. Over two years, the mother and daughter team worked together to write Between the Lines, resulting in a 352-page novel about young love, friendship and the power of stories.

I enjoyed Between the Lines and found it refreshing to read a novel offering an interesting, well-told story suitable for more advanced younger readers. With an 11-year-old daughter who is an enthusiastic reader, I know how difficult it can be to find books that are both interesting and age-appropriate.

The romance between Delilah and Prince Oliver is gentle and sweet rather than emotionally intense. There is an element of humour and fun throughout the story and the behind the scenes lives of the book characters (in a similar concept to the adventures of Andy’s toys in Toy Story) offer some interesting contrasts, such as the art-loving villain and the pirate who moonlights as a dentist. Some depth is added through Delilah’s relationship with her mother, her friendship with best friend Jules, and the difficulty Delilah has fitting in at school.

The story is quite simple and charming, ideal for tween girls (aged 11 – 13) who are looking for a longer, more involved story but are not yet ready for the more intense themes and action generally found in young adult literature. The publisher recommends the book for readers up to 15 years, but many of the older readers in this range may find the story too sweet and simple after other reading other popular YA titles such as The Hunger Games trilogy and similar books. Jodi Picoult’s name features prominently on the cover, but there is little similarity between the story and themes of Between the Lines and the types of themes and characters usually featured in Picoult’s novels for adults.

Between the Lines is narrated by both Delilah and Prince Oliver, interspersed with excerpts from the fairytale story. The ability to talk with storybook characters and enter a fairytale world is something that is sure to appeal to young book lovers and this novel is likely to be read and re-read by girls young enough to still be tempted by the magic possibilities of a fairytale.

Title:  Between the Lines
Author:  Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Illustrator: Yvonne Gilbert, Scott M Fischer
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: July 2012
Format:  Paperback
ISBN:  9781743310922
For ages:  11 - 13
Type: Middle Fiction