Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Beautiful Between, or Rapunzel's on the Upper East Side

I like quiet books. Books that slip under the internet buzz, books that take their time, aren't splashy, and don't make a big fuss with outrageous plots, but that take you by surprise at how well they can speak to one small part of your soul or being, or the magical wonder juice that makes us all tick individually from each other. It's why I like Jenny Valentine so much.

We haven't seen Valentine's new books here in the states, yet, so I was looking for a fix. Alyssa B. Sheinmel's The Beautiful Between was just that. Quiet. Dreamy. Believably introspective. So, obviously it's got to be the one reviewed after Zombie Haiku. I gotta keep things balanced around here.

Connelly's content in the middle. She does exactly what she has to do not to get noticed, she speaks up, but only enough so that her silence doesn't mark her as a freak. She blends in with the mediocrity. She spends her idle moments fantasizing about the similarities between high school and fairy tales, quietly casting her peers in the classic stories. So, when the school prince, Jeremy Cole, proposes a tutoring trade with her (he'll help her with physics, she helps him with vocab), it's a little surprising. What's even more surprising is the interest he takes in her life - but there is a reason for his interest and when it turns out that Jeremy knows more about Connelly's father than she does, it throws her life and her past into a spiral that risks fractured relationships and has to end with major revelations.

The Beautiful Between was elegantly written, dripping with genuine emotion, and believable as a character-driven piece. The pace is steady, and it's short enough that you never get bored with it's thoughtfulness, or Connelly's introspection. The little bit of mystery helps propel both the reader and the protagonist forward.

The writing is lyrical, the story of loss is moving, and I will definitely keep an eye out for Sheinmel's next book, The Lucky Kind, due out in May.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review, Jackie...I'll be ordering it for my library. And Jenny Valentine's books, as well. I love our budget, lol--it is a small town but mighty!

tanita✿davis said...

Huh. This sounds interesting...

Janssen said...

Wasn't this one beautiful?