Book Review : The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

October 30, 2013 Book review 8 ★★★

Different! If I had to find one word to sum up this book that is the word I would use. It is meandering, confusing and compellingly different. In an interesting but slow-paced way.

Book Review : The In-Between by Barbara StewartThe In-Between by Barbara Stewart
Published by St Martins Press on 5 Nov 2013
Genres: YA
Pages: 256
Format: eBook

When Elanor’s near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by bold, beautiful Madeline, she finds her life quickly spiraling out of control

Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries—she's even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life.

But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus . . . Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more—their connection runs deeper than friendship.

But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.” Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?

First Line:

“I was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.”

My Recap of The In-Between:

Elanor has a near death experience, loses one parent and possibly her mind. She gains a new friend Madeline who is visible only to her which leads to the premise of this book….is Elanor possessed or psychotic?

My Thoughts on The In-Between:

I kind of don’t know where to start! This book is a mind bender; you are never really sure what is going on. So is Elanor possessed or psychotic? It is one of those books where you need to read it yourself and make up your own mind. I will say that my opinion swayed several times during the book and even now that I have hung my hat on one theory, I don’t think it would take much argument to persuade me differently.

Elanor is not a very likable character and as you spend the whole book in her head, it can make for an uncomfortable read. She hates herself and is plagued by dark, depressive, brooding thoughts. Elanor’s father has a history of depression which cast a dark shadow over her younger years however she seemed to be happy enough until her best friend rejected her in favour of a more popular friend. This seemed to start a downward spiral of melancholic behaviour that ended up in a failed suicide attempt. After this her parents move to a new town and this is where the book starts and we come in.

On route to their new home, their car crashes, one parent dies and Elanor has a near death experience. And after that, what happens next is anyones guess! Her new friend Madeline is either a ghost or a figment of Elanor’s imagination and my mind was wrecked trying to figure out which I believed. It becomes obvious very quickly that Madeline is the polar opposite to Elanor; she is trendy, popular, a dutiful daughter – all the things that Elanor strives and fails to be.

Her other friend Autumn comes across as a bit of wet rag, Elanor is meaner than mean to her but she still remains friendly. It was a little like watching Elanor kicking a faithful dog who despite all the rough treatment stays for the rare moments of affection. There is a teeny tiny bit of romance too and it is awkward and believable. No one who loathes herself and is as insecure and confused as Elanor is could possibly have any other type of relationship so it adds an interesting element to the book and gives us a fresh insight in to how others see Elanor.

The pace of the book is a slow, painfully slow at times which is one of my biggest issues with it. Most of the book is the thoughts from Elanor’s head and there is very little action. I’d break it down as maybe 70% thoughts and 30% action. There are a couple of twists that set my mind reeling from shock so these help with the pacing issue as they keep you interested and invested in the story. However, I would have liked less telling and more showing.

There is a reference to M C Escher’s art work who I wasn’t familiar with. I looked them up though and loved what I saw and I feel thinking about the different perspectives you use to view this art, gives you a good hint to look at this book from all angles. Overall this book feels unique and thought-provoking and is an uncomfortable visit into the mind of a very troubled and unhappy teenager. It won’t make you feel good but it will make you think and will challenge you to work out what you believe. I love that there is no cookie-cutter answer to what is going on, instead the book leaves you to make up your own mind.

Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: three-stars

Who should read The In-Between?

For all who like thought-provoking, issue-heavy books within the YA genre, this is one with a difference and one I’d recommend if you can cope with a slow paced plot. I also think it would be a great book club read as it would be a great one to theorise and speculate about.

Thanks to NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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8 Responses to “Book Review : The In-Between by Barbara Stewart”

    • trish

      I love those sort of books too as they continue to surprise me. The cover is great, it really captures the feel of the book.

    • trish

      Total mind bender and head wrecker! My head still hurts trying to figure it out! Yes, the mc is a bit depressing to spend time with so you would need to be in a certain frame of mind to enjoy it.

    • trish

      I love that first sentence too, it played with my mind straight away. Yes the pacing was slow but I still enjoyed it as it was so different.

    • trish

      Yes, I’m glad I read it. It’s different and while I didn’t love it, I did like it and would be happy to read more by the author in future too.

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