Book Reviews

[review] Between the Lines – Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Release Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 358
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC received from publisher

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.

Tell Me More: About six years ago, I started reading fanfiction. The experience was incredible because I had no idea people could take well-known characters and plots and reinvent them in such creative ways. Granted, there were also some very poorly written stories, but for the most part, I was enthralled by the sheer scope of imagination that fanfic writers displayed. When I was sent this book for review and saw the synopsis, I was predictably reminded of fanfiction, and that did colour how I saw the book. Unfortunately, the story does not quite work with that comparison.

Between the Lines certainly isn’t a horrible book. Its steady pace and high readability will please younger or reluctant readers, and the subject matter isn’t shocking in any way. That said, it doesn’t offer much to older, more experienced readers, who may be looking for stories that really deal with their insecurities and problems. Delilah is exactly what you’d expect a fifteen-year-old to write as a protagonist–she’s shy, a voracious reader and very imaginative. There’s nothing to surprise Picoult’s audience, though kids like van Leer will certainly be able to relate to Delilah. As for Oliver, he too is the epitome of teenage fantasy. He is a prince, trapped in a world that doesn’t understand him, and who needs someone to cling to. Everything was quite pleasantly predictable, from the characters to the plot to the themes of finding where you belong.

Personally, this wasn’t a book I would recommend to most YA readers. It reads like a middle grade story, and I do think younger readers will enjoy it immensely. But Picoult and van Leer offer nothing new to the dialogue of teenage literature. It definitely doesn’t follow the path that Picoult has laid out with her previous novels. However, there is a certain comfort to be found in this book–it’s great to come home after a long, exhausting day of being an adult and settle in with familiar stories and characters. But beyond that, I think van Leer definitely needs more exposure and practice to build on her potential as a writer.

The Final Say: With its not-quite-YA nature, Between the Lines might not be the right book for readers looking for layered plot twists, but it is a pleasant and comfortable read.

About Jodi

Jodi Picoult is the author of eighteen novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers House Rules, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit her at JodiPicoult.com.

Samantha van Leer is a junior in high school. She conceived the idea for this book and pitched it to her mom, who was in the middle of a book tour. In her spare time, Samantha can be found playing softball, doing contemporary dance, acting and singing in musicals, and cuddling on the ground with her two dogs, Dudley and Oliver—for whom the prince in this fairy tale was named.

Add Between the Lines on Goodreads | Follow Jodi on Twitter @jodipicoult | Visit Jodi’s website

Order Between the Lines from Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters

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2 replies »

  1. This is a really fair review, Angel! I was expecting a YA book but it’s really much more of a MG read. Nevertheless, I tried to read it as a fairy-tale, and really enjoyed it. I haven’t bought a finished copy, and I’m not sure that I feel a need to, really – not hardback at least. But it was a sweet read, even if it was definitely VERY different from what I’m used to from Jodi.

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