Elizabeth Valchar has it all: looks, popularity, a boyfriend who loves her, a best friend who is also her step-sister. On the night of her eighteenth birthday, Liz wakes up to a new reality: she’s dead. That’s not a spoiler, by the way – we find know this by page 6.
Jessica Warman’s YA novel Between is a curious hybrid. It’s part mystery (I really found myself flipping those pages to see what had happened to Liz), part social commentary, part ghost story and part teen drama.
When Liz ‘wakes up’ and realizes that she is between life and death she also discovers that she is not alone. Her companion is a former classmate, Alex, a boy who had been involved in a hit and run a few months previously. Alex is her guide in this strange new space Liz finds herself.
By placing her hand on Alex, Liz can revisit moments in her life and she isn’t all that happy with the things he has to show her because, as it turns out, Liz Valchar wasn’t that nice.
My stomach feels hollow with guilt and shame as I watch my younger self, and all my friends, giggle while Topher torments Frank.
“But it’s not like I really did anything…I mean it was mostly Topher-”
“You’re fight,” he interrupts, you didn’t do anything. You never did anything to help him. You wouldn’t have dared; it might have made you less cool.”
As Elizabeth comes to terms with who she’d been in life, we also see how many of the people in her orbit cope with her death. Her ability to listen in on conversations and revisit significant moments in her life gives her insight and ultimately makes her a better person. Although I figured out one of the novel’s central mysteries relatively early on, it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this book.
I think teens will really see themselves in Liz and her friends. They’ll certainly root for her redemption.