Thursday, June 24, 2010

the beautiful between by alyssa b. sheinmel

"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.

This lovely and memorable debut by Alyssa B. Sheinmel contains many of the hallmark themes found in young adult literature—friendship, coming of age, finding a place to belong, and overcoming the death of a loved one. Emotionally moving from start to finish, The Beautiful Between introduces a strong new voice to the genre, a voice with a long future ahead of it."

The summary above comes from Goodreads.

Jeremy, royalty of New York and the school Connelly attends, befriends Connelly under the pretense of helping her with her physics if she'll help his with his SAT vocabulary. She is more than shocked but readily agrees. He sits with her regularly as they watch the girl that sits across from them cut lettuce slices into squares and eat them. They don't talk while they watch her slowly dwindle away with anorexia until she's checked into a hospital for her disease.

Then, they start to study together. They are only friends but they bond over studying and a surprising secret. Connelly likes Kate, Jeremy's sister as much as she likes Jeremy. Kate is in 7th grade but hangs out with the 11th graders, she's that likeable and charming. She makes Connelly feel like she belongs with Jeremy as friends maybe more, but at least that they are alike.

Then, as tragedy strikes in Jeremy's family, he begins to call Connelly at odd hours to meet him. And, she becomes part of the royalty, invited to parties thrown by people she'd never thought would have invited her much less known her name.

Things come to a climax when Jeremy's tragedy peaks and he begs Connelly to get the answers she needs about her father's death.

The story is told from Connelly's point of view and it's easy to warm up to her. On the other hand, I found it hard to figure Jeremy out. He was erratic and cryptic and only made sense at the very end of the novel for one betrayal. I'm hoping there will be a follow up, but I don't see how there can be with the closure Jeremy and Connelly got. I just felt like so much was left up in the air between them.

Despite all that, I enjoyed the book and couldn't put it down. It was a very quick read and I will definitely read another novel from this author.
It dealt with a delicate subject in a neutral way letting the reader fill in the blanks and didn't dwell on the subject.

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