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The In-Between: A Novel Paperback – November 5, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This novel takes the blue ribbon for surprise endings. Ellie is the narrator, but with her history of mental illness, is she reliable? After a suicide attempt, a horrific car wreck, the death of her father, and abandonment by her best friend, the 14-year-old feels more fragmented than ever. When Madeline befriends Ellie, she can't believe her luck; Madeline is everything Ellie wishes she was-beautiful, thin, confident-and dead. Soon, Madeline's friendship takes an obsessive, demanding turn, and Ellie must decide if she values the relationship more than her own life. Stewart conveys with gripping conviction the differences in Ellie's perceptions and those of Ellie's mother. Ellie sees, hears, and feels Madeline though her mother does not, or at least says she does not. The creepiness of the story is intensified by the reader's growing awareness that Madeline is much more than Ellie's ghostly BFF. In the vein of V. C. Andrews, Stewart has created a taut psychological drama that teens will adore.—Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC
Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss and her family are moving to a new town after her suicide attempt during her eighth-grade year. They are hopeful that starting high school in a new environment will break the chain of painful events that has been Elanor’s adolescence. But en route to their new home, they’re in a terrible car crash that kills Ellie’s beloved cat and one of her parents—and at first the question is, which parent? Stewart’s tightly constructed ghost story is tantalizingly creepy with completely believable twists. We meet Ellie’s twin, Madeline, who was not a miscarriage but mysteriously disappeared in utero. Her eerie power over Ellie leads to dark places, including a unique take on near-death experiences. Ellie’s dad suffered from severe depression, and her mother recognizes Ellie needs help and gets her therapy and hospitalization. But it’s a steep spiral down into Ellie’s mind as she succumbs to mental illness. Stewart’s debut novel is a riveting page-turner with real empathy and compassion. The journal format clarifies Ellie’s different stages and lends a wonderful voyeuristic appeal. Grades 8-11. --Debbie Carton
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This book is a hard one for me to review. It was really different and unique - like nothing I've ever read before. I didn't know what to expect and I was kind of confused the majority of the time. It was hard to tell what was real and what wasn't - what was true and what was imagined. I suppose that was part of the author's plan for the book, in which case it was executed with great precision. The plot was truly original and mind bending - a blend of paranormal, contemporary, and thriller all at once. The relationship between Ellie and Madeline is fascinating and really intriguing - I really loved how the author took it somewhere unexpected. The ending blew my mind - Madeline's plan and the events that take place - it all fit perfectly with the rest of the book. The characters were well written and had great personalities with distinct flaws and strengths, which helped them to be realistic and accessible to me as a reader. The author used vivid details and descriptions to really engage the reader and bring them into Ellie's world and mind - so much so that it was hard to get back out after the book was over. There's so much to this story - some makes sense, some doesn't until after you've finished, and some continue to puzzle me long after finishing. I know this review sounds really vague and confusing, but I don't want to have any spoilers or ruin anything for readers. Overall, this was an exceptional debut and an author you'll definitely want to be watching. Definitely recommended for fans of strange and creepy thrillers along with paranormal fiction.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Elanor is a misfit and an outcast. Always dancing on the edge of a depression that wants to swallow her up. On the car ride to a new home her parents were moving her to, there is a bone crushing accident that threatens to swallow up both Elanor and her parents. Still, Elanor moves to the new home after a long coma and dance along the edge of a near death experience, she encounters a spirit in the new home. The spirit of a girl who threatens to swallow Elanor alive.
To tell more would give away too much of the story. This is well written and the author has crafted a well written story. But it dwells so much in the depths of depression that I could barely finish it. There were too few subplots to keep the story interesting beyond the soul crushing depression of the main character. I had such mixed feelings about this book. Bottom line is that I could have lived without this one.
I was bothered by this book--something like how The Exorcist once bothered me. I was an adult when I encountered both. I don't know, but it seems to me that there is nothing "sacred" any more. By that I'm not talking about religion... although I do believe in the supernatural existence of a higher power, hence the ability to conceive just about anything... My thoughts are more related to what and how we portray our own lives, in books, in movies, in music. Even if I'm older than many of you, don't think for one moment I have not at least been exposed to most of what is in life...
To me the sanctity of my own life, our own lives, how I value the body in which I'm housed, even when I don't follow all the rules, is something I've thought about. And when I'm asked to think about a book, especially when it is listed for young adults, one of the first things I think about is whether I would pass on a book to my teenage great-nieces (and their mothers, earlier, LOL)... I would not pass this book on to any member of my family and allow them to think I recommend it to them.
Laura Wiess is quoted on the front cover "A dark, compelling story of love, loneliness and obsession spun out of control...chilling, heartbreaking, and nerve-wracking...
in the best possible way..." This last phrase is what I disagree with as it relates to today's youth...
This book takes an incident of birth, where a mother was pregnant for two children, but one of them disappeared, as I understand it, consumed, or more likely, naturally absorbed by the mother's body or by the other baby's needs...
Being a twin was found out by the daughter of the couple while she is a teenager... Whether or not she should have been told about that was, of course, a parental decision and perhaps these parents did. After Elanor finds out, she begins to have dreams, one of which is a child actually eating the other, in the most horrible ways imaginable in our nightmares...
There is another issue about the book, probably because of my own situation where I became clinically depressed, burnout, emotionally unstable--whatever you want to call it. For this book, the young girl has had emotional issues in the past. And there is quite a bit of reference of her stealing her mother's pills and/or trying to get them illegally. Of course, that had to be the case in order for what happened to have happened... (Right? The kid has mental problems...)
In case you haven't read much in this area, we seem to have a troubled time for youth--maybe it's known more because they somehow find guns, take them to schools, and let other people know about their feelings. Is it because, I wonder, that they feel so out of control, but think they have no support system to help them? Is it because we label every lapse of emotional stability as to what is behind the horror movies, books, and, ultimately, real life that we exploit for entertainment.
If, when I began to cry for no reasons (I thought at the time) and couldn't stop, I had not known, automatically, that I was not at fault--it was something outside, namely work overload, that resulted in my inability to control my emotions, then I have no idea what I would have done, other than to know that I had unconditional family support available to me. Not every teenager has that "sure" knowledge.
All I ask, because I can't say that this book is not a unique story worthy of an adult's reading, that if you are considering it for, or as a YA book, that you realize that this is not real--it is a story made up for entertainment. Explain this to your child if they want to read it. And authors, if you are going to write horror, consider some issues as sacred, especially the emotional, inner thoughts and hopes of teenagers about their lives and their bodies.