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Review: The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

T h e  B e a u t i f u l  B e t w e e n by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Release Date: 5/11/10
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Pages: 192
Source: Borrowed/school library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kindle
Word Blurb: Saddening, interesting, and mysterious!
"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."

I was thoroughly disappointed with this book, as it happens. I was expecting this book to be more. Filled with emotion and depth. It isn't. THE BEAUTIFUL BETWEEN has a nice synopsis, and a potentially good story, were it not for the many, many, many things that bothered me about it. While it's still saddening, and holds a touch of sad emotion, there's nothing about it that screams authenticity or amazement.

First, the heroine fell flat to the ideal heroine. This story is supposed to be more of a character-driven tale, in which the heroine develops, but that isn't what entirely happened. Sure, Connelly learned a little about herself and others, but she doesn't strike me as this amazing heroine because she's... well... boring. I couldn't get into her - her habits, her flaws, her insecurities. The only thing that made me feel a twinge of sympathy is the loneliness and isolation she feels because of her caring, yet distant mother. The mystery of her father's pronounced death didn't make me all that curious to know what was going on. And I felt bored along the way, trying to hang on until things started to pick up.

Things did not pick up.

Even worse, there was no burning desire to get to know the other characters. Jeremy is weird, in my opinion. I don't find him attractive, more I find him to be odd. Not exactly the ideal popular prince of the school, though granted he is going through some major familial issues. Then there's Kate, Jeremy's younger sister, whose character was about the only one I adored. She's sweet, kind, and intuitive, even for one so young. And about the only time I got emotional in the novel pertained to my liking her. Other than that, the characters did nothing for me.

It was clear, after I reached the climax, that I wasn't going to be entirely fond of this book. While I had good expectations, perhaps even high ones, THE BEAUTIFUL BETWEEN isn't at all what I had expected or had intended to read.

Thanks for reading! And happy blogging!


Danny said...

Wooot. just found your blog and love it - you have a beautiful place here!!


Danny :)

A. Knight said...

Danny - Thanks so much - glad you like it! And it's nice to meet you, Danny :)

Small Review said...

Yep, this is pretty much how I felt. Boooring. I started reading it because I had heard it was a fairy tale retelling but, yeah, it's not really.

I never really connected with the main character, didn't care about what she was going through, and the "climax" just seemed too predictable. Sure I cried, but I was sort of angry for falling into the cliche. I wasn't feeling their romance either.

A. Knight said...

I know! I was so shocked. I started to get into it within the first few pages, but then gradually I noticed that I was getting bored. The ending made me tear up some - which is weird because I'm normally very sensitive - but between that and the beginning, I was bored and uninterested like crazy...