Death hides painful truths. Discover and deal, or be left Between.
Written: Apr 16, 2012 (Updated Dec 27, 2012)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Characters are unlikeable but believable; keeps readers curious
The Bottom Line:
At 454 pages, Between is a long book, but it's worth it.
Elizabeth (Liz) Valchar celebrated her eighteenth birthday last night by partying with her stepsister and their friends on her family's boat. This morning, she wakes to a constant bumping noise outside and is unable to ignore it. A little creeped out, but unwilling to wake anyone else, she goes out to investigate . . . and finds she is looking at herself face down in the water with her new boots causing the noise. Liz Valchar won't be seeing another birthday. She has no memory of what happened the night before and is missing pieces of the last year. In death, her mind seems to have blocked truths she may not be ready to face.
She does have a friend on the other side, though. Well, maybe not a friend. Alex Berg was a student at Liz's school who died the year before. He was pretty much invisible to Liz and her group, who viewed themselves as far above everyone else and treated them "accordingly." They were superficial and mean. Now, all Liz and Alex have are each other. He explains to her that he was in the same amnesia-type situation when he first died. It has taken him a lot of his now-endless time to find clues, regain memories, and piece things together. His own personal details are largely off limits to Liz, but he is going to act as a sort of guide and help her remember as much as he can.
She has no trouble with the knowledge of some things -- her beautiful but fragile mother's death when she was nine, her father's affair with his current wife sparking rumors that her stepsister is actually her biological sister, and the undeniable love Liz shared with her boyfriend Richie. Why, then, is he now dating her stepsister?
In between moments of watching current life moving on around her, she remembers things in fits and starts and begins putting them together. What she learns is ugly, unbelievable, and unchangeable.
At 454 pages, Between is a long book, but it's worth it. Most of the time, I was so intent on wondering what Liz's forgotten history was that I didn't even notice the length. I was also filled with frustration over the relationship between Richie and Liz's stepsister and couldn't understand how Liz could wax poetic about their deep love. It all makes sense in the end, though.
I am very happy with the way Jessica Warman handled the story, both the pieces of the past and the current "between" state. She didn't try to make the reader like Liz just because she's now dead. She was still the same full-of-herself person she was in life. As her story unfolded, though, it became easier to accept her. In fact, all the characters were human. Richie was a pothead and a dope dealer. The circle of friends were an interesting lot, they partied and bullied and weren't always completely loyal even to one another.
There was some language that parents may not be wild about in Between, but it was very minimal compared to other books I've read in the young adult genre. Just fair warning.
I've read plenty of books about teens and death/after-death, and this was one of the better ones. It doesn't pretend the protagonist is something she's not, nor does it encourage an unnecessary romance between Alex and Liz. It's just good reading, plain and simple.
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