Title: The Beautiful Between
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 11, 2010
If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.
If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.
Alyssa Sheinmel writes an evocative story filled with hope, love, friendship, and grief that grasps the concept of death, and familial problems through Sheinmel's consistently beautiful, yet simple prose. In an elitist setting, filled with characters that have money and status, Sheinmel peels out the deep, raw problems of the very wealthy by breaking that façade of unemotional ignorance that elite people seem to have.
Seemingly impervious, Jeremy's secrets are told through his growing friendship with Connelly who also has the mystery of her father's death to deal with. Their relationship is slowly but thoroughly developed and their problems bring them closer to each other as they try to cope and overcome their dilemmas. Both characters are solidified with their unique perceptions and palpable emotions along with significant relationships with themselves and their family and friends.
The concept of fairytale versus reality is reiterated through constant fairytale analogies that gives The Beautiful Between a dream-like tone and captures the essence of the concept of fairytale and reality. It adds a more personal touch to the atmosphere and makes it more compelling and refreshing. Here, the idea of a 'beautiful between' is symbolized as the middle of fantasy and reality; Connelly lives quite a fancy, fairytale-like life, but it is contrasted by her problems that is pulling her into reality as well.
The Beautiful Between is a meaningful, and beautiful book that will touch your heart. The depth of the characters and the gravity of their problems and situations are thoroughly and expertly explained in such a short span of words. The Beautiful Between is a concise, thoughtful read filled with immense clarity and perception that will keep readers pondering and really look at their own 'beautiful between'. A =)
The Bottom Line: A quick read full of many meaningful messages.
My reaction/enjoyment: 10/10
Total Score: 93/100 (A)