I picked up Alyssa B. Sheinmel’s The Beautiful Between when I was looking for a YA book that wasn’t 400 pages. The quiet, muted cover appealed to me. The book, like the cover, is quiet. It’s a slim novel but it packs an emotional punch. I really enjoyed it and I think teens will, too.
Connelly Sternin is 16 and is a typical teen. She lives with her mother, is an average student, average popularity, and pretty much an average life. Like a lot of high school kids, she moves through life on autopilot- do this because it’s right, study so you get good grades, start thinking about college, talk to your mom when necessary. But unlike other kids, Connelly doesn’t have a dad. Sure, lots of kids have divorced parents, but she isn’t one of them. Her dad died. That’s all she knows. And to be honest, that’s what she thinks she knows. Her mother won’t talk about it and it’s been so long that Connelly feels silly asking. But in fifth grade she told her classmates that her parents were divorced and they’ve believed that ever since. So when cool guy Jeremy befriends her and starts asking questions about here dad, she is guarded. Together, they learn that they have a lot more in common than tutoring.
This is realistic fiction at its best. Connelly is a believable teenager with believable problems. I felt like I knew her when I was a teen. She is a regular kid trying to figure out life and death. And while that may sound morbid, this isn’t a morbid book. It’s quiet, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s real. Connelly rang true as an actual teenager, as did her classmates. I think teens will enjoy The Beautiful Between because they will see themselves reflected in Connelly’s world. I also think this will appeal to Sarah Dessen fans and wouldn’t hesitate to hand it to them. It’s also a nice change from the trendy paranormal YA’s saturating the market right now.
*review copy courtesy of the publisher
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