Second Look: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Written with her 15-year-old daughter, this is a literal fairy tale from best-selling adult author, Jodi Picoult.  For her first young adult novel, Picoult blurs the lines between reality and fantasy (fiction).

Title: Between the Lines
Author: Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Publishing Date: June 2012
Age: Young Adult (13+)
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Told in 3 alternating chapters, Picoult’s book focuses on Oliver, a prince in a fairy tale; the fairy tale where Oliver lives; and Delilah, a 15-year-old girl who becomes obsessed with the story.

The characters of BETWEEN THE LINES, the fairy tale written by Jessamyn Jacobs, know they’re just actors in a play.  But Oliver, the prince, wants out of the book.  He doesn’t even remotely LIKE his princess and is yearning for something more.  (Existential crisis?  Most likely.)  When someone from the Otherworld can actually talk to Oliver, he tries to find a way to escape the fairy tale.

Delilah is a social outcast.  Mostly due to the fact that she’s beyond clumsy and accidentally broke the head cheerleader’s leg last year.  So she reads to escape reality.  She becomes obsessed with BETWEEN THE LINES, the fairy tale, because of Oliver’s own experience losing his dad.  (Delilah’s dad is living with a new family in Florida.)

Oliver and Delilah become friends, then eventually more, as they try to find a way to be part of each other’s real world.

It’s not what I was expecting.  This isn’t a bad thing, mind you!  But, being a fan of Picoult’s for years, I was expecting something controversial.  This is tame.  It’s a great story and it did suck me in, though!

I liked the fact that she intersperses the actual fairy tale into the novel itself.  The book is talked about so much, it was nice to get to read it for myself!  (And the art is beautiful!)

The novel works for younger readers.  It’s a little long (a little over 300 pages, I think), but the writing is smooth and fluid.  It’s easy to get sucked into the story and want to know what Delilah and Oliver will try next.

The characters (at least, the REAL characters) are fully imagined and believable.  Delilah’s mom worries that she’s depressed and takes her to see a psychiatrist.   Delilah’s best friend, fellow outcast Jules, is hurt by the fact that Delilah is pulling away from her.  Delilah’s easy to understand and relate to.  She’s a fifteen year old girl looking for her first real boyfriend.

What didn’t really work for me is the fact that at the climax of the story…(SPOILERS!)…Delilah has Jules drive her four hours to Massachusetts to meet Jessamyn Jacobs.  Jules doesn’t have her driver’s license but agrees.  And Delilah’s mother has a mild freak-out, but not over the top.  Even Jacobs doesn’t seem overly concerned with Delilah’s sudden appearance and request that she change the ending of the story.  Hmm.

What’s cute if you suspend disbelief?  The fact that Edgar, the author’s son and basis for Prince Oliver, is able to rewrite the story and put himself INTO the story while taking Oliver OUT.  It’s a neat ending, truth be told, but I’m still unsure how Edgar can change the ending when Delilah couldn’t.  He doesn’t even change it just by switching places with Oliver, but making them alien hunters.  Odd.

It’s a great read and I’d highly recommend it – especially if you like stories within a story.  It’s great for younger girls who will cherish the blossoming romance between Oliver and Delilah, too.  In fact, our Mother-Daughter book group is doing this for our September meeting.  It’ll be interesting to hear their thoughts!

Rating… 7.5/10


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