Between the Lines
By Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer
Expected publication June 26, 2012 by Simon Pulse
Delilah is a bit of a misfit - she's not popular and doesn't have too many friends. Plus, lately she's become a bit fixated on one specific book - a fairy tale written for kids. Delilah just feels a connection with the book. When the prince of the story starts talking to her, she wonders if she's crazy or if the connection is deeper and more complicated than she could have imagined.
I feel like I've been hearing about this book for years now - it was definitely one of the most buzzed-about new titles at Midwinter. In fact, I was disappointed that I didn't manage to grab a copy. I'm a fan of Picoult and was very interested to see what her young adult debut, co-authored by her teenaged daughter, would entail. So, when a coworker came back from the TLA conference (Texas Library Association) with an ARC and asked if anyone wanted to borrow it, I immediately volunteered. I'm not going to lie, though - this book is a let-down. It reads almost nothing like a typical Picoult novel. One of the things I love about Picoult's books is her use of multiple narrators - it gives readers a better opportunity to empathize with and understand each character. The same technique is employed here - chapters alternate between Delilah and Oliver's voices and excerpts of the actual fairy tale - but it doesn't work as effectively as it normally does in a Picoult book. I didn't feel especially connected to either character and didn't find myself rooting particularly hard for their romance to overcome its obstacles. But I persevered and finished the book. Don't get me wrong - it's not bad. I'm not entirely sure what the degree of collaboration is between mother and daughter in terms of the actual writing of the novel, but it's decent for a first book. The concept is not exactly new and stunning but it's handled well enough. However, it started to get a bit tedious - Delilah and Oliver try a number of different solutions to no avail and I started to imagine that maybe what made the most sense is that their obstacle couldn't be overcome. But, this is, ultimately, a romance, so of course love prevails. I don't think that's too much of a spoiler there (would anyone really have expected a different sort of ending?). In the end, everything is tied up just a bit too nicely, which doesn't really feel like a typical Picoult ending either. I'm sure this book will be a hit because there's already a built-in audience as well as a lot of people looking for romances (I feel like more people read romance in the summer, I don't know why), but it definitely left something to be desired for me.