Between the Lines
This review was created by the editorial staff at Thriving Family magazine
This teen romance by Jodi Picoult and her teen daughter, Samantha van Leer, is published by Simon Pulse/Emily Bestler Books/Atria, divisions of Simon & Schuster Inc., and is written for kids ages 12 and older. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Fifteen-year-old Delilah is a loner. Her father left years ago, and her mother worries since Delilah has no reputable friends. Delilah, who loves to read, finds an old fairy-tale book at the library called Between the Lines. She is attracted to the main character — handsome Prince Oliver — partly because he knows what it's like to lose a father. She wishes desperately that she could know someone like Oliver. Then one day, he speaks to her from inside the book.
Oliver didn't really lose his father. The dragon and the villain aren't actually evil, and Oliver doesn't really like his "true love," Princess Seraphima. They're all just actors, playing their parts over and over each time someone opens the book. Oliver is growing tired of playing the part, wishing he could escape those pages and enter the real world. He's tried to communicate with his readers, to ask for help, but no one has ever been able to hear him, until Delilah. Slowly, she begins to talk to him, and they become friends. Together they try to figure out what it will take to get Oliver off the page and into Delilah's world.
Meanwhile, Delilah deals with her real-life problems. The kids at school are cruel. Mom, thinking she hears Delilah talking to herself in her room, calls a shrink. Within the pages of the book, Oliver consults with the people who have magical powers to find his way out of the book. When nothing seems to work, Oliver pulls Delilah into his story. Delilah realizes that as much as she wants to be with Oliver, she wants her life at home as well. Oliver's magician friend returns Delilah to her world.
As a last resort, Delilah decides to talk to the author of Between the Lines. With the help of her friend Jules, she secretly travels to Cape Cod to find writer Jessamyn Jacobs. Between the Lines, a fairy tale, was the last book she ever wrote, but she is most famous for her best-selling thriller books. Delilah goes to Jessamyn's house and asks her to rewrite the ending. Jessamyn says she can't. She urges Delilah to call her mom, but invites Delilah to stay for the night since she's so far from home. Delilah meets Edgar, Jessamyn's son, who is the spitting image of Oliver. Edgar loves to play video games and feels all he's ever done is disappoint his mother. When Delilah learns Jessamyn's copy of Between the Lines is still on the computer that Edgar uses for playing games, she and Edgar rewrite the ending. Edgar trades places with Oliver, becoming the fairy-tale character, while Oliver becomes real at last.
Other Belief Systems
The book in which Oliver lives contains fairy-tale magic, with characters such as dragons, fairies and trolls. One character brings to life whatever he paints on his canvas. Another knows a spell that shows the future. Mermaids cast spells that allow their victims to breathe underwater. Delilah suggests to Oliver that maybe Jessamyn wrote the book because some higher power, such as fate or destiny, compelled her to do so in order for them to meet. When a powerful wave of magical pandemonium breaks out in Oliver's world, Oliver's canine friend, Frump, becomes a naked human.
The Lord's name is used in vain a half a dozen times. The words p---ed, butt, crappy, suck and heck also appear.
Oliver often kisses Seraphima, as his role in the fairy tale requires. He feels guilty because he doesn't really like her outside of the story. Delilah mentions a boy who kissed so badly, he practically swallowed her whole when he tried. Delilah learns that a boy she kind of likes "hooked up with" another girl over the weekend.
Oliver says he's watched Delilah getting dressed in the morning when she's left the book open. Mermaids in Oliver's story kiss fiercely and try to get Oliver to marry them so they can kill him. Delilah and Oliver kiss when they are finally together in his world, and again when they're both in hers. Delilah jokes that Jules' aunt is Voldemort (a Harry Potter character) in drag.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What attracts Delilah and Oliver to each other?
- What do they have in common?
- Oliver and Edgar are identical.
Why isn't Delilah attracted to him?
How does Delilah's obsession with her book and Oliver impact her relationship with Jules?
- With her mom?
Was her mother justified in worrying about her daughter?
How would you describe Jessamyn and Edgar's relationship?
- How could it have been improved?
- How would you describe our relationship?
- How could it be improved?
Deception: Delilah writes in her English journal that she's reading a teen book so no one will bother her about her fairy tale. She lies to a teacher when she's not where she should be. Oliver lies to his fellow players in the book in his efforts to escape and be with Delilah. Delilah is deceptive when she sneaks off to Cape Cod.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.
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Readability Age Range
12 and older
Simon Pulse/Emily Bestler Books/Atria, divisions of Simon & Schuster Inc