I have a confession to make: when I first heard of Between the Lines, my immediate reaction was “Jodi Picoult is writing a teen book with her daughter? What a publicity scam.” Then I read the book’s description and got a healthy serving of crow because my next thought was “This story actually sounds pretty fantastic.”
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha Van Leer (Simon Pulse/ Emily Bestler Books) tells the story of Delilah, a teenage girl who would rather read a children’s fairy tale than hang out with kids her own age because the prince in the story really speaks to her. No really, he actually speaks to her. Prince Oliver has spent his life acting out a fairy tale every time the book he lives in is opened, but when the covers are closed he is just a teenage boy wanting a life of his own. Oliver’s chance at freedom comes when he finds a way to communicate with Delilah. The two set out to free Oliver from his story and bring him into Delilah’s world so they can be together.
Alright, who has at one point or another dreamed about a favourite character coming to life? If your hand isn’t raised, you are lying. I love that this book takes that dream and makes it a reality for Delilah. The lucky girl!
Between the Lines is a wonderfully light read. It is romantic, sweet and actually quite funny. I really enjoyed Oliver’s ignorance of our world; it made for some good laughs. Given all of the dark subject matter lining the shelves of the teen section, Between the Lines is a refreshing change of pace. Sometimes it’s nice not having to worry about the end of the world, you know?
The story’s narration alternates between Delilah and Oliver in the first person. The writing is a tad juvenile, but it works for the novel because it suits the age of the main characters. Just be aware if you set out to read expecting the same writing style found in Picoult’s adult books. Also, interspersed throughout Delilah and Oliver’s accounts are several chapters from Delilah’s copy of Between the Lines so that the reader gets a taste of the “actual” fairy tale. A very nice touch.
And that’s what I loved most about this book: its layers. Its circularity. It is a book within a book within a book. The end is in the beginning or vice versa (depending how you look at it). It’s like those mythological symbols with the dragon eating its own tail (trivia time: that symbol is called Ouroboros), although in this case it’s more like the book eating its own tale.
Still not convinced that you should give Between the Lines a read? Pick up a copy and flip it open. It is gorgeous! In the chapters meant to be from Delilah’s copy, there are full-colour illustrations by Yvonne Gilbert that are amazing. Scattered throughout Delilah and Oliver’s narration there are black and white silhouettes created by Scott M. Fischer. And even the text is a different colour depending on the narrator. It is a very beautifully designed book.
In the acknowledgments, Picoult says they wanted a beautiful book reminiscent of “those gorgeous picture books from the turn of the century with colored plates by Arthur Rackham.” To that I say mission accomplished!