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I'm a librarian based in the UK who loves books. I'm happiest when I'm either talking about them, reading them or buying them. This blog is dedicated mainly to my addiction to YA fiction but you will also find some adult and non-fiction book reviews as well.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Review: Between - Jessica Warman

Between by Jessica Warman published on 3rd October 2011 by Egmont

Goodreads synopsis:
Only the good die young. Right? Elizabeth Valchar has it all: friends, money, beauty, a cute boyfriend and assured popularity. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she is found drowned next to her parents' boat. Everyone thinks it was a tragic accident - teens drinking on a boat, a misstep leading to a watery death. But Liz is still here after death, and she doesn't know why. There are gaps in her memory. Her only company Alex, a boy killed by a car a year earlier, Liz sets out to piece together her life. But their small coastal town is hiding many secrets - about families, boyfriends and friendship. Plus, Alex hates Liz for being mean when they were alive. Was she as squeaky clean as she thinks she was? Could it be that she herself is hiding the biggest secret of all? Can Liz discover the truth? And if she does, who can she tell?

Review:
'Between' is an extraordinary and powerful novel from author Jessica Warman.  Reminiscent in some respects to 'If I Stay' by Gayle Forman and 'Before I Fall' by Lauren Oliver, it employs the device of a teenage girl looking back at fragments and memories of her life, after having died.  What at first appears to simply have been a tragic accident turns out to be much more than that and so she attempts to piece together what or even who may have caused her death. 

I was emotionally entangled in the story from the very first chapter which is an outstanding opening to a book and which had me intrigued and turning the pages faster and faster.  The story is multi-layered and as I read, I found that the plot kept drawing me deeper in with some unexpected twists and turns.  I was continually surprised by the revelations about main character Elizabeth Valchar and I was as eager as her to find resolution to her death.

Elizabeth is about to turn eighteen.  She's pretty and popular and is celebrating her birthday with her closest friends and boyfriend on board her Dad's boat The Elizabeth.  From the outside, life seems golden but when Elizabeth dies, she has to try and make sense of of the events leading up to her death and what she discovers may affect all those she's left behind.  Helping Elizabeth is local boy Alex Berg, who was killed in a hit and run accident and is also stuck in a kind of limbo between life and death.  The link between them is only revealed near the end of the book and certainly shocked me as I hadn't guessed what connected two people who in life had moved in seemingly separate circles.

What I loved about the character of Elizabeth is that on the surface she seems to have it all.  She's one of those girls that everyone wants to be.  She has a seemingly perfect and gifted life, but as the plot unravels, the reader can very gradually see how emotionally unstable and mixed up she really was.  She may at first seem altogether superficial and shallow, but in actuality she's as lost as everyone else.  What's so great about 'Between' is that Jessica Warman really makes you care about a character that you may initially be dismissive of.  When the truth about her is exposed, I found myself feeling genuine sympathy towards her.

This is a tremendously well written and absorbing book that will make you not want to leave the house until you've reached the end.  It's about the flaws of human nature and what people hide underneath their glossy exteriors.  Make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand for this moving, compelling and emotional story.

Don't forget to visit the blog tomorrow when Jessica Warman herself will be stopping by as part of her blog tour for 'Between'.      

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