Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.

If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.

This lovely and memorable debut by Alyssa B. Sheinmel contains many of the hallmark themes found in young adult literature—friendship, coming of age, finding a place to belong, and overcoming the death of a loved one. Emotionally moving from start to finish, The Beautiful Between introduces a strong new voice to the genre, a voice with a long future ahead of it. (from Goodreads)

I was really interested to read The Beautiful Between. When it was first introduced a few months ago, there was a lot of positive buzz. But after it was released, I read some negative reviews. I was wondering which would win - the positive buzz or the negative reviews? I believe that buzz won out. I really enjoyed The Beautiful Between and thought it was wonderfully written novel. Sure, it has some negatives: some of the sections were a little choppy, and it could have gone even deeper into Connelly's and Jeremy's past, relationship, and personalities. Regardless, I still liked The Beautiful Between.

First, I loved the analogy Connelly made between high school and a kingdom. It fits so well, in general, but then it also applied to the story. Connelly is prone to fantasy and daydreaming, so it makes sense that she would use the fairy tale of Rapunzel to understand her world. A big section of the plot is devoted to Connelly wondering about her father. She knows her father died, but she doesn't know how or pretty much anything else about him. She's afraid to ask her mother because there are a lot of tough feelings and memories, so she decides to investigate on her own.

Then there's her relationship with popular boy Jeremy. This actually ties into her father's death, but I won't go into details. I loved their friendship so much. One, because I thought it was realistic and two, because the author did such a wonderful job writing it. It was slow, but steady, and didn't unnaturally turn into a romance. I actually believed that these two people were best friends. It was so sweet. I would love a sequel, though it's probably unnecessary plotwise, just to see what happens between them. There are some sad parts in The Beautiful Between, but I thought they were, once again, well done.

Overall, I enjoyed The Beautiful Between. It was nice to read a book about a beautiful friendship and two people opening up to each other. It was sweet, it was sad, it was interesting. Even if you've read some bad reviews, I would still give The Beautiful Between a chance and see if you like it.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
FTC: I borrowed this book from my library.

2010/Knopf/192 pages

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