Reviewed by Amanda Keats
Book-lovers have been escaping into a good book for centuries. Imagine what it would be like though if, when you closed the book, the characters you loved stopped acting out their designated roles and could be their normal selves? What if Elizabeth Bennett wanted to dye her hair and walk around in miniskirts and vest tops? What if Heathcliff was actually a very quiet, sensitive man who loved nothing more than painting landscapes? What if Bridget Jones spoke with a posh accent and wrote poetry?
Fairytale hero Oliver is sick of replaying over and over the plot of Between the Lines. He is always the hero, on a quest to save his love, Seraphina. Over and over again, every time a new reader picks up a copy of the book. Except Seraphina is actually an imbecile who believes the parts they each play in the story and though Oliver enjoys playing chess with his best friend and cares greatly for the woman playing his mother, he wants out. Delilah, on the other hand, is a misfit teen, struggling to fit in and make her mother proud in the absence of her father. Delilah cannot bring herself to part with her copy of Between the Lines, the child's fairytale she discovered at the school library. When one day she voices out loud her wish that the book's hero, Oliver, were actually real, she is stunned to see him turn and look back at her. It is only when he uses his knife to scratch the words "help me" into the cliff wall that the adventure really begins.
While many crossover young adult books appeal to teens and adults because they can reach both on different levels, some are successful and popular with readers because they appeal to the teen in every reader, regardless of their actual age. Barely past page one of Between the Lines, I had regressed – not just to my misfit teen years but beyond – to my younger years when I wanted just one more story before bed and devoured stories at such a ridiculously fast rate, my poor parents had to buy new books almost as much as they needed to buy me new clothes (I had something of a growth spurt!).
The book is instantly magical, transporting the reader into a world where fiction is reality and the divide between reader and book has been crossed. The story jumps between the fairytale and accounts from both Delilah and Oliver (who was named after Samantha van Leer's dog). The pair are star-crossed lovers for a new generation, both desperate to be with the other, to make the general monotony and daily grind of everyday life that much better simply by having the other in it. But will they find a way to be together? Will they manage to figure out how to get Oliver out of the book or will Delilah join him in the fairytale land? More to the point, will they devise a way to be together before Delilah's mother has her committed?
Between the Lines will have you guessing to the very end and devouring each page at great speed. With gorgeous illustrations dotted around the pages, it is the kind of book you can escape into, just like Delilah. A delight.
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