Tuesday 25 September 2012

Between the Lines

Between the Lines Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-74331-092-2
Reviewed by Ann Harth (www.annharth.com )

What happens when you close a book? Are the characters simply suspended in time, waiting for someone to open it again? You might think so, until you read Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and her daughter, Samantha van Leer.

Delilah is 15 – way too old for fairy tales. Everyone already thinks she’s weird because she’d rather read than hang out with the mall and lip gloss crowd. What would they think if they saw her reading a book for little kids?

But for some reason, Delilah simply can’t get enough of Between the Lines, a book she found in the school library. Prince Oliver, the reluctant hero, seems to reach out to her and she feels an inexplicable connection with him. One day, she’s shocked but certain that Oliver glances at her from the pages of the book.

Oliver lives in a fairy tale world that is not what it seems. As soon as the book is closed, the characters return to their “real” lives. Oliver avoids Seraphima, the beautiful but irritating princess, and hangs out with his best friend, Frump, the dog (who is secretly in love with Seraphima). If he isn’t tasting the Queen’s baked treats, Oliver is swimming with the pirates who are “actually quite nice fellows” as long as the book is closed. Even the Queen isn’t his real mother, but just a kind, elderly woman who plays the part. Oliver wants out. He’s tired of scrambling into position every time someone opens the book. He wants to discover what’s out there beyond the pale flat faces that peer down at him.

When Delilah and Oliver discover that they can actually talk to each other, they grow close and are determined to find a way to be together. Although they live in two different worlds, they devise a number of schemes to help Oliver escape from the confines of his fairy tale.

Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer have created an intriguing fantasy with a unique style. Between the Lines is written using three consecutive storylines which unfold over the course of the novel. Delilah and Oliver each have their own chapters so we can see what happens in their respective worlds as well as their overlapping experiences. The fairy tale is the third storyline and adds even more conflict as the reader can see the contradictory role Oliver has to play as the prince who’s afraid of dragons.

Between the Lines is engaging and filled with internal as well as external conflict. It will appeal to readers aged 11-15.

Jodi Picoult is the author of eighteen novels, four of which have been New York Times bestsellers. The idea for Between the Lines came from her teenage daughter Samantha van Leer. When Samantha isn’t writing she’s playing softball, dancing, performing and playing with her dogs. Mother and daughter worked together to create this absorbing book.

Ann Harth is a published children's author and writing tutor at Australian College of Journalism. She loves to read and is committed to creating children's literature that inspires, entertains and triggers a tiny twist in the mind. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Art of Magic, is now available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

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