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Reader’s Advisory: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

The In-Between

by Barbara Stewart

St. Martin’s Griffin, ISBN-10 1250030161, $9.99 trade paper, November 2013

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?

Nothing new under the sun in this mental-illness issue drama that asks the reader to decide whether Elanor has a serious mental illness or really spent time in a dimension between life and death with her dying father and vanished twin sister (vanished as in got absorbed before birth, not as in got kidnapped). Teens who enjoy guessing games and unreliable narrators might go for this one, and the depiction of a teen with mental illness being shunned by her peers is sadly accurate. All in all, though, the writing is passable but the action is rather slow. I Am the Cheese by Cormier is a better head trip, and mental illness in teen fiction has been used to much better effect recently, such as in Cameron and the Girls by Edward Averett.

Recommend to: Fans of Justine Larbaliester’s Liar

To buy or not to buy: Supplemental purchase all the way.

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