9 July 2012

Book Review: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

"Delilah knows it's weird, but she can't stop reading her favourite fairy tale. Other girls her age are dating and cheerleading. But then, other girls are popular.

She loves the comfort of the happy ending, and knowing there will be no surprises.

Until she gets the biggest surprise of all, when Prince Oliver looks out from the page and speaks to her.

Now Delilah must decide: will she do as Oliver asks, and help him to break out of the book? Or is this her chance to escape into happily ever after?

Read between the lines for total enchantment . . ."

Rating: 4/5

I don't normally read YA novels, as while I enjoy them, I still prefer the fiction aimed at my own market. However, I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan, and when I was offered the opportunity to read and review her brand new YA novel written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, I decided I wanted to give it a try even though it isn't normally something I would read. The cover for the book is stunning, a gorgeous mix of yellows and purples (and is immensely better than the US cover, well done to publishers Hodder) and looks somewhat magical just by that. I started to read, wondering if I'd find this as compulsive as Picoult's adult novels, and I was really surprised by the story inside... a magical fairy-tale of love and books!

After reading Picoult's author notes at the start of the book where she writes about how fans of her books have asked her to write something for a younger market, it made me realise how much of a broad appeal this author holds. Her books are worldwide best-sellers, turned into Hollywood movies, and it seems that younger readers want in on Picoult's work too. Some of her adult novels contain themes perhaps inappropriate for younger readers, but Between the Lines balances that problem perfectly. It's a magical story aimed at the younger market, those readers old enough to sustain a near 400 page novel but has that brilliant Picoult writing we adult readers have come to know and love. The inclusion of her daughter Van Leer as a co-writer is a good one, and you cannot tell where one person's writing ends and another begins.

I'm not nomally a fan of magical books - I personally just prefer something a little more realistic and true to life, and have really struggled with chick lit books with the magic element before by authors like Cecelia Ahern. However, Between the Lines doesn't pretend to be anything other than a magical tale, and I loved that from the outset. Our protagonist is a teenage girl, Delilah, who realises she probably shouldn't be reading fairytales (says who?!) but is so in love with the book anyway, she doesn't care. Delilah goes through all the emotions you'd expect of a character in her circumstances - shock, disbelief, awe - and I liked how Delilah's obsession started to affect other parts of her life too, showing how reading and books can encroach on even the most studious student and loving daughter! The way Picoult and Van Leer unfold the world of Oliver within the pages of the book is so clever, and I didn't disbelieve anything I was reading, and I certainly didn't scoff at it like I have magical tales in the past.

What worked so well for me was how they constructed this world between the pages of the books for Oliver and the cast of his novel, who come to life when the book isn't being by a reader. Oliver is his own person despite his character and flaws, and is desperate to experience the real world with Delilah. The pair go through several means and ways of helping Oliver escape the pages, and we're really left wondering if the pair are going to be able to complete the feat. Oliver and Delilah's burgeoning romance is very sweet to read, and while you realise Delilah's naivety for falling in love with a character in a book, there's something wholesome and touching about the whole. Picoult and Van Leer tell the story through 3 main storyline threads - interestingly, they are all in a different colour print which is something I've never seen before in a book like this, but I really liked it, it was different! We have Delilah's story, Oliver's story and then the actual fairytale story, which is far less prominent than the other two but still important.

The other thing I want to mention are the drawings. At the start of each of the fairytale chapters, we get a beautiful hand-drawn picture relating to that part of the book, taking up a whole page, and they are really stunning. There are also small drawings across the pages of the book too which is a lovely addition, and they are just a lovely addition, some of them are gorgeous. This is a really lovely YA novel, which I think is going to appeal highly to the younger age of the market simply because I think the upper end is catered for with the hard-hitting teen fiction out there (Twilight, Hunger Games) and there are some who just won't like the magical element. Me? I really enjoyed it, found the writing style easy to get into and I really liked the cast of characters as well. Oliver is a British Prince, the perfect antithesis of American teen Delilah, and it's a sweet romance that will leave you with a smile on your face. Lovely book.

You can buy Between the Lines as a hardcover or an eBook now.


  1. Ooo, this sounds interesting.
    I'm actually on my 3rd Jodi Picoult book at the min - Nineteen Minutes.. this looks like another addition to my ever-growing 'books to read' list!

  2. I've never read Picoult but my book club selected this one so I should be reading it later this month!

  3. Oh I do love Jodi Picoult, 19 minutes is prob my fave! This book though doesn't appeal to me so much though :(

  4. What is a YA novel? Am I being thick??

  5. Anonymous - YA is Young Adult :)

  6. Gonna add this to my list for pay day! Love Jodie My Sister's Keeper may favourite remember reading this on a train and gasping at the end won't say anymore incase someone hasn't read it and I give it away! Loved it xxx