When I worked at Barnes & Noble, I repeatedly had customers buying books written by Jodi Picoult. As I was ringing them up, I’d sneak a moment to read their backs before slipping them into a sack for the patron. Later that same year, my book club chose to read Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. I could not put it down; it was 424 pages and I read over half of it in one day. I also bought it as a gift for my aunt sometime down the road. Then I eventually got to meet Jodi Picoult at a book signing here in Salt Lake City. That is still one of my most favorite book signings that I have ever attended.
Jodi Picoult is best known for writing tear-inducing controversial topics, but she did something a little different–and wonderful–when she co-wrote Between the Lines with her teenage daughter, Samantha van Leer. Once I read the description for the book, I instantly fell in love with it and hoped it would be as amazing as it sounded. Then for Christmas in 2012, I received a beautiful hardcover of Between the Lines as a gift. Now several months later, I finally sat down with it and immersed myself in a stunning world where characters in books come to life and have hopes and dreams beyond the stories they act out.
Fifteen-year-old Delilah McPhee doesn’t have it easy; she’s the least popular girl in school, her father has a new family, and the only person who could possibly understand what she is feeling is a handsome prince in a children’s fairy tale. Delilah knows every single word and illustrated image from the fairy tale, and one day notices something drawn in the sand that was never there before. Prince Oliver, who hates living inside Between the Lines, decides to send Delilah a message and enlist her help in escaping the confines of his fairy tale world. Delilah is hopelessly in love with Oliver, but spending every moment with him on page 43 of Between the Lines is making her seem like a crazy person to her mother. Will Delilah and Oliver ever find their happily ever after?
As much as I enjoy reading ebooks, Between the Lines will be most appreciated in hardcover form. I had no idea that in addition to a well written, unique fairy tale it also included gorgeous color illustrations and silhouette pictures every few pages to enhance the reading experience. I began to wonder if I reached out a finger to touch the pictures, if they would start to come to life beneath my fingertips. Because of limited space I don’t keep most of my books when I finish reading them, but the modern day fairy tale and the illustrations earned Between the Lines a permanent spot on my keeper shelf.
This book is unique because not only are actual pages from the fairy tale included, but the reader also gets a glimpse of what every day life is like for these characters when Delilah (or someone else) is not reading the book. I was reminded a lot of another fascinating fairy tale I read, Eyes Like Stars, in which the characters are so much more than the roles they play on stage. I didn’t find myself questioning too much how all of the “magic” worked; I fully gave myself over to Between the Lines. The fairy tale world has everything I could possibly want: trolls, fairies, and oh yes–mermaids. I loved the descriptions of the mermaids, but felt the mermaid names used were too common. I can think of several other stories that use the more familiar names of Ondine and Marina. I wish that Picoult and van Leer had been just a bit more creative here.
I love fairy tales because they make the impossible happen. As I kept turning the pages faster and faster, I almost expected the worst because of Picoult’s tragic twists. About 50 pages from the end, I began to see exactly where the authors were taking the story. Even though I predicted it, that didn’t make it any less of a satisfying read. I’m going to look forward to reading Between the Lines again, the next time I lose faith in happy endings.