Book Review: The Beautiful Between

Book Review: The Beautiful BetweenThe Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published by Random House LLC on 2011
Pages: 192

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. This lovely and memorable debut by Alyssa B. Sheinmel contains many of the hallmark themes found in young adult literature—friendship, coming of age, finding a place to belong, and overcoming the death of a loved one. Emotionally moving from start to finish, The Beautiful Between introduces a strong new voice to the genre, a voice with a long future ahead of it. From the Hardcover edition.

The usual fairy tale of a popular young man starting to pay attention to a girl who thinks herself not unusual – not worth the attention. Connelly knows there’s a reason he has been driven to approach her about helping her with her homework. It’s quite an interesting plot because of the way Connelly grew up – knowing nothing about her father’s death. Her mother completely shuts off whenever it is brought up and Connelly would like to keep her mother happy. The connection between Connelly and Jeremy is wrought with pain and sorrow, but they make the best of it.

I think it followed the normal arc of two people finding themselves on common ground, neither of them sure if their intentions are completely innocent in the way of their friendship, but enjoying each other’s company nonetheless. Definitely a great story.

Both Jeremy and Connelly are flawed and different. You could tell they were real people as you read the story. They both had their own intricate workings of how the world worked for them and the realizations that you go through during life of having those worlds change – for better or worse. It’s nice to see inside of a head that is so different from your normal whiny teenage female character. She’s philosophical and wondrous and the author does a fantastic job of reflecting how Connelly grew up on her psyche.

There’s this great feeling of disconnection from parents in The Beautiful Between and I know you say “why is it great to be disconnected…”. It’s not, but it’s what happens. Teenagers drift, find their own world, and start to sever that child to parent link that has so strongly held them in childhood. Connelly’s has been cut fairly early, she notices the change when she broaches the subject of her father as a child and that’s when the drifting starts. I love how real everything felt in the book.

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4 responses to “Book Review: The Beautiful Between

  1. Emma

    This book looks interesting. Wonderful review. Retellings are awesome when they’re done right, and this one seems like it has.

  2. I love fairytale retellings (my favourite being Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinlay) so will definitely be picking this one up. Thanks for reviewing it!

  3. This is another book that has been on my list since way before it’s release. I am such a slacker lol. I haven’t seen many reviews of it though so I’m really happy to read yours! It sounds great, and I didn’t know it was a debut novel. Very cool!
    Thanks for the review.

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