The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Release date: May 11, 2010
If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.
If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.
When I first picked up The Beautiful Between I had no idea what to expect. The summary didn't give much away, and I hadn't read many reviews for it. I was drawn in from the first few pages by Sheinmel's poignant and emotional writing and I ended up finishing this novel in a day.
Connelly is a great main character, although at times a bit impulsive. I sometimes couldn't understand her decisions. Connelly was obviously just trying to find her place in the world and Sheinmel really got inside Connelly's head and helped readers get to know who she really was. Connelly was a girl many people could relate to, and I really felt sorry for all she'd been through. I especially loved the fairy tale aspect. Connelly imagined her school as a princess's court, to help her understand everyone and how they functioned. The Prince Charming, someone I was at first wary was going to be the typical popular guy, turned out to be one of my favorite male leads ever!
Jeremy was the main reason Connelly was able to find herself. He was an honest and lovable character, and the friendship Sheinmel crafted between him and Connelly was beautiful. Their relationship was well developed. It wasn't rushed or too slow, it was believable. Jeremy helped Connelly understand who she really was, and although he made her make some difficult decisions, everything worked out in the end. This novel proved that not every relationship has to be physical love, but a powerful friendship can be even better. Jeremy had a loving and supportive family, so different from Connelly's own, and one of my favorite characters from the novel was Jeremy's sister, Kate.
Kate was an amazing person. She was inspiring, sweet, and made people wish they could be like her. She wasn't arrogant though, and that made me like her that much more. Kate really proved to both Connelly and the reader how important it is to spend time with your family and friends and to cherish the time you have with them.
Connelly had no relationship with her mother, who had disappeared into a shell when her father died when Connelly was two. I loved watching their relationship grow and develop as the story went on, and the worst part was, another terrible tragedy had to occur to bring them back together.
Alyssa B. Sheinmel is a powerful and emotional writer. She has a great sense of knowing the perfect words to use and I would probably read anything she wrote, even if I hated the plot, just for the writing. The plot itself was definitely unique and beautiful as well, this was overall a terrific debut that many readers will cherish. While there were some flaws, I overall really enjoyed this and can't wait for Sheinmel's next release!
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
* I'll be interviewing Alyssa as part of her blog tour on Friday. Be sure to stop by!*