Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Review: 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.


In a surprisingly simplistic way, Sheinmel has created a very reverberating and emotional tale. The writing is strong while still bringing out the personality of Connelly, casting things in her biased yet insightful light. With a single question carrying through the story, Sheinmel creates some level of mystery while still writing a true account of teenage friendship.

Connelly is unique, creating fantasies and fairy tales in abundance. Living with only her mom, Connelly knows nothing more than her father died when she was two and he is rarely talked about. Her own methods of dealing- and the things she discovers over the years- come out at a steady pace, helping to show both how she's developed some of her traits as well as build the mystery revolving around the dad. The reader feels the growing desperation to know at the same rising rate Connelly does, creating a strong bond with every page.

Jeremy is a well rounded, fantastically written character, holding his own traits that contrast to Connelly's and create an unexpected friendship between them. Their relationship is an easy one, holding some level of teenage want but generally stays more platonic and companionable. Despite being the most wanted boy in school and coming from a rich family, Jeremy is rarely stuck up and glides easily through high school and his life. But as the summary states, he holds his own secrets and things aren't nearly as perfect as they appear.

The kinship between Jeremy and Connelly is the most notable facet of this book, holding very true to how many teenage relationships can go. Add in Jeremy's vibrant younger sister Kate and this book is rapt with strong and memorable characters. Their interactions are a mixture of enjoyment and heartache and their motivations both rough and understandable.

The ending leaves the reader in a comfortable place, both having closure as well as a few trademarks to echo and linger even after the book is closed. This is certainly a coming of age kind of story- a plot in which the characters have to face things that are perhaps beyond their time yet striking them hot and leaving a lasting reminder and mark on them. Strong characters, beautiful writing, and a simple yet very fantastically developed plot, this quick read is well worth it.

Source: ARC received for review from author

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375861823
ISBN-13: 978-0375861826

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  1. This sounds cute but a YA I will skip.

    I like that you find books I have never heard of.

  2. I didn't know about this book...but this seems really nice :)

  3. I want this SO, SO much! Thanks for the great review :)

  4. I just read this one too, awesome review...I really enjoyed The Beautiful Between.

  5. Your reviews always make books sound so good! I'll keep an eye out for this one. :D

  6. Great review! This one sounds good. Not at the top of my list to read, though.

  7. This one sounds good! Thanks for the review. The cover looks suspiciously like the Blue Bloods series, what with the city skyline.

  8. I'm a little up in the air about this one, but it's on my reading list anyway.

  9. Loving the review. I like endings that leave me feeling comfortable. I'll have to check this one out, I was on the fence about it, but now I wanna read it! :)

  10. I have been so anxious to read this one for a while now and I think this is probably the first review I've read on it. I definitely think this is one I'm going to enjoy whenever I get the opportunity to read it. Oh and I just love the cover too. Thanks for the terrific, well-written review. :D