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Between The Lines: A Seriously Good Idea

Updated on July 3, 2012

Jodi Picoult

Picoult in 2007.
Picoult in 2007. | Source

A Book Review

When I was younger, I practically inhaled Jodi Picoult’s books. Never before had I been so addicted to one author and their work. Not only was there something so precise and meaningful and real in her writing, but her topics were thought-provoking and she always provided a twist somewhere in the story that shook readers to their very core.

And so when I heard that Jodi Picoult was coming out with a new book that included a fairy tale (Between The Lines), I was enthralled. Being a fan of both Picoult and fairy tales, I knew I had to pick it up as soon as it came out.

Delilah, a fifteen year old who doesn’t quite fit in at school, constantly reads the same fairy tale over and over again because she can identify with the prince. Sixteen year old Oliver, the prince in that fairy tale, wants more than anything to escape the book and live in the real world. Their journey together consists of brainstorming and experimenting with numerous ways to get Oliver out of the book so he can live happily ever after with Delilah.

But Delilah finds that it’s difficult to help a fictional character out of a book and into the real world. It’s even more difficult to get people, like your mother, to believe you. What comes after these realizations are many interesting adventures (both outside and inside the book), tense situations, encounters with various characters (such an excellent cast!), sweet scenes, and humorous moments (seriously, I found so many lines or quotes in this book to be hilarious). The fairy tale that Delilah reads is even written into the book so that we, as readers, can experience it as well.

I’ve heard some negative reviews about this book thus far, stating that the writing isn’t up to par to Picoult’s usual standards and that the book was almost childish. I’ve heard some positive reviews even claim that although they enjoyed the book, there was still something different and strange about it. I can understand this. Picoult’s novels usually deal with tense, real-life situations, including deadly diseases that inflict family members (My Sister’s Keeper), school shootings (Nineteen Minutes), suicide (The Pact), rape (Salem Falls), and court cases (numerous of her novels). And so, to see something such as fairy tales or fictional characters coming to life might be a bit new to some of her readers.

But although this may be the first time we see Picoult write something that is more light than suspenseful and more fantasy than reality, it isn’t the first time she’s confronted the unordinary. Her 1999 novel Keeping Faith was about a child who could see and speak to God and the main character in Second Glance (2003) was a ghost hunter who had many supernatural experiences.

The writing, I believe, is up to Picoult’s usual standards. It’s very well written and engaging. I don’t think Picoult’s fans can go into this novel expecting it to be like every single other one she has written. This isn’t just a Jodi Picoult novel. The idea came from Picoult’s daughter and they wrote it together. Between the Lines is a Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer novel, and therefore, it has every right to be different. Furthermore, Picoult herself acknowledges at the end of the book that one of the reasons this was written was so that her fans could introduce her writing to their own children.

I don’t think the themes or situations in this book are childish, either. This book is part fairy tale and I don’t believe fairy tales are just for children. As Delilah herself says in the book, “… how do you tell an adult that maybe everything wrong in the world stems from the fact that she’s stopped believing the impossible can happen?” This is an incredibly deep message and the fact that fictional characters come to life doesn’t make the story juvenile or silly. It’s called fantasy. The concept of this book is interesting and fun – who ever said fiction had to be totally realistic? Imagination has no bounds.

I feel this was a great book because I’m still thinking about it. I’m still replaying the scenarios in my head and I’m wondering what happened to the characters now that the book is done. I miss the characters.

I hate to admit that I haven’t read Picoult’s most recent books (except for this one) and I still don’t know how to pronounce her last name correctly, but I genuinely enjoyed her new book and would highly recommend it to readers who are willing to give it a chance.


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