Tuesday, December 9, 2014

BOOK REVIEW | BETWEEN THE LINES by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Authors: Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Publication Date: June 26, 2012


Delilah, a loner hates school as much as she loves books— one book in particular. In fact if anyone knew how many times she has read and reread the sweet little fairy tale she found in the library, especially her cooler than cool classmates, she’d be sent to social Siberia forever.To Delilah, though, this fairy tale is more than just words on the page. Sure, there’s a handsome (well, okay, incredibly handsome) prince, and a castle, and an evil villain, but it feels as if there’s something deeper going on. And one day, Delilah finds out there is. Turns out, this Prince Charming is not just a one-dimensional character in a book. He’s real, and a certain fifteen-year-old loner has caught his eye. But they’re from two different worlds, and how can it ever possibly work?

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Jodi Picoult’s books are basically everywhere, right? But believe it or not, after all these years of me being a book nerd I have never ever picked up a copy of any book written by her. I don’t know, maybe it’s because of the titles of her books doesn’t appeal to me that much. Weyhey, look at me now! I actually stumbled across Between the Lines when I was randomly scrolling post after post on a certain Facebook group that I’m a part of. There was a post where a member was asking if they know of a book that has a premise wherein a reader falls in love with the main character of the story and vice versa. It was then that I spotted Between the Lines in the comment section. Others were even launching off onto discussions about it.

I was, “Oh okay. I like the sound of the premise. It’s unique, very intriguing and I should definitely check it out.”  I was truly in haste to have a copy of this book because I can’t get the premise of it out of my head. I was already picturing out how the story will flow and thinking that the ending will bring tears to my eyes. ‘Cause come on, how will a story like this end?  So yeah, I was really giddy to start reading it. I like the premise. Plus, it’s going to be another new author experience, for me. It seems that Between the Lines is going to be the first book that I will read written by Jodi Picoult. Cherry popper book, right here. Surprise, surprise Jodi co-wrote it with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer, which just made me more excited about it.

So getting started with this book, I have so much hope about it already. Only to be crushed. Disappointment was coursing through my veins while finishing up the book. Yep, I still finished it despite my feelings towards it. I really wanted to love this book and has still sliver of hope that something will happen that will possibly redeem itself. But then, nothing. My disappointment wasn’t solely because the book turned out not to be what I hoped for but I was truly disappointed because I can clearly see the potential of the materials used in this book.

Apparently, the only thing that I liked about this book is its premise. Jodi Picoult and Samantha were able to present a very unique premise wherein a book character falls in love with one of its readers. We are introduced to a world where book characters seem to have their own lives aside from the ones that they portray in the book. It was really fun seeing these characters scrambling to be their characters and be in their positions when a reader decides to open their book and then return to playing chess or whatever that they usually do when the book is closed.

In Between the Lines we witness Oliver, our main fictional book character, struggle being stuck in a book, wanting to get out of it and be able to live his life in the ‘Otherworld’. With all these desperate and helpless feelings tumbling inside of him, he decided to get the attention of the book’s most avid reader, Delilah. He gave it a shot and shockingly ended up being noticed by her. That’s what we follow through in this book. We read the adventure of Oliver and Delilah devising and coming up with plans on how to get Oliver out of the book and be free with being just a fictional character. Seems crazy? Not in this book. Picoult's and Van Leer's imaginative minds knows no bounds and gave us this story. 

At first, I was really excited and even giggling about the prospect about this two being in a relationship. Like, how are they going to make it work with them belonging to two different worlds? But then as the story progresses, I was little by little cringing. Delilah being overtly love-struck with this fictional character and closed off to the world/people around her because of it ended up being irritating and annoying. Her character didn’t develop AT ALL. Her character seems to be this outcast in school already and she doesn’t even try to reach out to people more (or correct her ways) in the duration of the book. Even her relationship with Jules, her only friend, became strained because of her devoting most of her time to Oliver and her feelings towards him.

“You know what? You don’t get to decide that. It takes two people to make a friendship work, and these days, I’ve been doing more than my fair share.”

I really don’t believe with Oliver’s feelings towards Delilah. Why? His feelings towards her could’ve been driven out just because of him being desperate to get out of that book. Delilah was the first one to give him attention and I’m pretty sure he’s holding to that feeling of newness of being heard. Which give or take could’ve confused his feelings. There was a scene or two that really pissed me off about his character. But it just drove home that fictional characters aren’t perfect. They are just like us, with flaws and all that, and we need not to put them high on a pedestal. I know you, fangirls, will agree with me when I say that we always gush about how perfect, amazing and blah they are. Sometimes we tend to look over the fact that they aren’t and there’s always a scene were they could’ve acted as a jerk and we looked over it. Or maybe we know that they’ve acted impulsively and came across as a jerk but brushed over that fact because of their hotness. Am I right with that? Ding!

I could talk more about Delilah and Oliver but I would probably just end up rambling and ranting about them. So, I’m just going to talk a little bit about the flow and pacing of the book – it was rushed and it was quite obvious. As soon as we reach that shift between Delilah and Oliver’s world, the story just went bam bam and bam. You can feel the story already craving to get to the resolution part of it.

I also didn’t like the fact that most scenes that happened here in this book is in connection with Oliver’s dilemma. I know that it’s the main plot of the book but they could’ve injected more about Delilah’s life too just to balance everything out. But sadly they didn’t. Yes, they showed bits about Delilah and scenes when she was with her mother and Jules but you can see everything going down the drain because of her fixation towards Oliver. It would've been great if those relationships developed and grew stronger while she was on a mission of getting Oliver out not the other way around, which is constantly declining.  

“What if instead of focusing on what you don’t have, you concentrated on what you’ve got?”

Actually, the book has bits and pieces of lesson imprinted on it but then those weren’t emulated by our characters. And that’s sad and disappointing because you can see and imagine if the book was written in a certain way that it could have been included. I think, Between the Lines would have turned out to be a great book.

“I’m sorry, lad. But sometimes the key to happiness is just expecting a little bit less. That way, you’ll never be disappointed.”

Desperate to give us a happy ending, Picoult and Van Leer managed to over imagine everything and trampled lots of ideals that the book seem to have presented in the beginning of it or what really holds the book down. The ending somewhat came across as a contradictory message to its core which was about the family and freedom. I can’t dive into the ending that much because it will be really spoilery but it was unfair for a certain character. She wasn’t given the freedom to decide and offer her own input with how the book’s going to end. My heart actually broke for her character.

At the back of my mind, I have this different idea for how this book went and I’m really happy with what my mind conjured. Ha! Okay, I think that’s about it. Maybe it’s just me who found this book in my “not my cup of tea” list so if you’re intrigued by it, give this book a try. I don’t know, who knows, maybe you’ll love this book more than I do. No worries though, I will still read other books by Picoult in the future.


About the authors

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. 

Her new novel, LEAVING TIME, is now available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Samantha van Leer is a junior in high school. She conceived the idea for Between the Lines and pitched it to her mom, Jodi Picoult, who was in the middle of a book tour. In her spare time, Samantha can be found playing softball, doing contemporary dance, acting and singing in musicals, and cuddling on the ground with her two dogs, Dudley and Oliver—for whom the prince in this fairy tale was named.

1 comment:

  1. Sad to hear you didn't enjoy this one! I've had this in my TBR Mountain of Doom since its release. I actually went to the author signing she had with her daughter! It sounded like an incredible read to me! The reader connecting with the book character. A sort of worlds colliding! I've read a few reviews over the years and they've been kind of mixed for the most part. I will still likely read this one day, but might not mark it as high in the priority list!

    Hope you enjoy your next read better! And once again, nice honest review!