Friday, October 25, 2013
by Barbara Stewart
St. Martin's Griffin, 2013
Reviewed from NetGalley
Audience: Grades 7 to 10
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Elanor was declared dead at the scene of a car accident, but she wakes up in her new house with her father anyway. Things are very strange there, but she soon meets Madeline, a girl so full of life and excitement that Elanor forgets about everything else. But once her and Madeline begin their plan to stay together, Elanor is ripped from her home and comes back to reality. Her mother survived the crash, not her father, and she has been caught between life and death for several days. Now, Elanor must adjust to life with her mother, a new school, and new town all while struggling to keep her relationship with the ghostly Madeline whose intentions are darker than Elanor knows. This book is troubling, dark, and suspicious, but excellent for a cool October night.
The In-Between reminded me of several books at once. The entire first part of the book reminded me of the movie What Dreams May Come. In the final scenes, Chris has passed away and been traveling through the afterlife, but his wife cannot handle his death, or the earlier deaths of her children, and commits suicide. Chris goes to the darkest corners of the afterlife to save her, and that is what the in-between space feels like. Life barely moves, existence is barely registered.
The relationship between Elanor and Madeline reminded me of Pippa and Felicity from A Sweet Far Thing. They love each other, and are quite connected as the reader will find, but cannot survive together and the relationship becomes very dangerous.
Finally, Elanor as a narrator reminded me of Micah from Liar. The reader is never 100% sure that Elanor is telling the truth or if Madeline and all her troubles stem from her mental illness. And Elanor is obviously troubled, but the question of why is more complicated than a medical diagnosis. Especially considering the strange resolution. I won't give it away, but it's odd.
Despite reminding me of several books along the way, The In-Between had me hooked. It was strange and dangerous and gave me a couple of shivers. It's not the type of book that is outright scary, but it is understated and haunting. You will be scratching your head trying to piece together what Elanor is telling you into something that makes sense. Not all readers are willing to work hard enough to follow the broken train of thought, but those that are will be rewarded with a strange and intriguing plot.
This Halloween season, pick up The In-Between if you like your books spooky and thought-provoking.