I’ve never read any of Jodi Picoult’s work before, though a quick look at a Books-A-Million the other day showed me that I’d be willing to at least give them a shot. So when Between the Lines and its sequel Off the Page started showing up in my BookTube world, I didn’t quite know what to expect. But since it’s about falling in love with characters in a book, and it’s a mother/daughter co-written story, I was excited to pick it up.
It did not disappoint.
Is this book great literary fiction? No, it’s really not. The plot is predictable, the characters are expected, and nothing really surprises necessarily. But to be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted this book any other way.
Delilah is a high school girl who is absolutely obsessed with one particular fairy tale she found at the library. Reading wouldn’t make her an outcast, per se, but reading something this far out of her grade level certainly will. Her mother thinks it’s strange, her best friend Jules thinks it’s strange…but there’s a very good reason why Delilah is so entranced by this book.
See, not only is the hero of the story–Prince Oliver–handsome and wonderful and true, but…he can talk to her. And when she opens that book, Oliver comes alive. And much like her, he doesn’t feel like he fits in with his story, and longs to make his way through the world of the Reader–Delilah’s world. As Delilah longs to be in the world of the story, they try to understand each other and over time, begin to fall in love. Now Delilah needs to find a way to get the boy of her dreams out of the pages of his fairy tale and into her arms…before someone takes the book away for good.
I feel for Delilah and Oliver. I was an outcast in high school, with my very small group of friends, and I always dreamed for bigger shores. I still do, to some extent. I’ve never quite found where I properly fit in, and Lord knows I’ve fallen in love with my fair share of book characters. And I know what it’s like to feel like you’re doing something strange by reading out of your age range. Some of my favorite books are YA novels. I’m 27. Do I care? Not in the least. The characters are no less “real” to me because they’re younger, or written for a younger audience. And if I found out that the illustrations of one of my beloved protagonists could talk to me? Yes, you’d probably want to send me to the funny farm. There would be no taking me away from that book–ESPECIALLY when I was Delilah’s age. I wanted nothing more than to be far away from where I was, in the arms of a valiant savior.
The story swaps perspective from Delilah, to Oliver, to Oliver’s original story (also aptly titled Between the Lines), and to good effect. Especially as they have to live their separate lives in their different worlds, it’s good to see both sides of the coin. I love the concept of Oliver’s original tale and who the prince was meant to be as well. The belief that characters can be something other than what the story tells them once the pages are closed…well, let’s just say I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who’s ever thought about that. Being able to see who these characters become is a lot of fun, and very well put together.
The book is charming and fun, with all the right dashes of young love, adventure, and heartbreak. The ending is beautiful, and makes me excited to read what happens next in Off the Page…because I know something is going to go down. It has to. And I like that set up.
Rating: **** – Recommended