Author: Jessica Warman
Publisher: Walker & Co
Publish Date: August 2, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Elizabeth Valchar--pretty, popular, and rich--wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday on the yacht where she'd been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead.
She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death. She's also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.
Liz was perfect in life. She had the looks, the friends and the money to buy popularity and keep it. Beneath the surface though, Liz was more than just a pretty face. Born to a mother plagued by anorexia, Liz learned from an early age that eating equals control, and when her life spun out of control, she controlled her eating habits. On the morning of her 18th birthday, Liz wakes up to see her body floating in the water, but she has no recollection of what's happened. As she wanders the "between," she meets a fellow classmate, Alex, and together they begin to unravel the mysteries of their deaths. But Liz was wasting away in life, biding her time to the inevitable conclusion of her life...what was destroying her?
Between is one of those books that you probably see at the bookstore but pass over for the big-name book you've been coveting for a while. It's daunting in size and, frankly, despite the gorgeous cover, Between doesn't necessarily pop from looks alone. It's unfortunate though because Between is a breathtaking and haunting story about love, truth and the ability to live with oneself at all costs. Jessica Warman is no stranger to issue-driven books. With Between, she's crafted a story that chronicles a teenage girl's life spinning out of control as we, the reader, are helpless but to watch as her life falls to pieces. Gripping and emotional, Between captures your attention from page one through the tragic and troubling conclusion.
From page one, Between is well-written. We're given a snobby, conceited MC that we somehow have to relate to and feel for, but we're challenged throughout. Despite the fact that we want to feel for Liz, we want to know why she has become the way she is, as well. Her story is a downward spiral of darkness that spins and twists throughout, leading us into a darker maze of lies and lack of control, which is compounded upon by the great supporting cast of secondary characters, including Alex, Richie, Josie and Caroline. The dynamic of Liz's relationships in life directly impacts Liz's relationship with Alex in death, which is a strength in Between, showing us character growth and potential. The writing of Between is also well-executed. At times rich and descriptive, we're painted a picture of a girl that's lost in her own life and death. At other times, Between is sparse and puritan, giving us nothing but the clean, essential facts. The two writing styles play off one another to provide depth and intrigue. I will say that the anorexia story, although extremely well-done in Between, was difficult to read. The emotions that anorexics feel and the painstaking details about control and lack thereof are difficult to read and hard to swallow. As one who is, and will always be, in recovery from an eating disorder, Between can be triggering and painful. That said, while it's painful to read, it was executed well and provides a shadowed layer to an already riveting novel.
Between was a beautiful book that crosses genres, giving us the best of contemporary, love and ghost stories in one fast-paced read. The adult themes of drugs and eating disorders should, however, be known when approaching this book. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA and adult books, especially those who enjoy mysteries, contemporary fiction and ghost stories.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.