Monday, September 19, 2016

Between the Lines - by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer

About ten years ago our town selected Picoult's My Sister's Keeper for its One Book One Community (OBOC) read. As a member of the OBOC steering committee I read it, and championed it, as I do with all our selections.Honestly, though, I wasn't crazy about it, although I could see why it appealed to so many others. And It did turn out to be a popular choice for the OBOC program. I've not been interested in reading any more of Picoult's books since then though. However, I noticed this one on display at my local public library while I was looking for another book. Picoult co-wrote this one with her teenage daughter Samantha van Leer. Since "Leer" is the Spanish word for "read" I picked it up and read the inside cover description, which specifically mentions an obsession with a library book, at which point I knew I had no choice but to read it myself.

In this fantasy tale The Purple Rose of Cairo meets Toy Story when fifteen-year-old Delilah falls for the handsome prince in an illustrated library book. She discovered the book in her school library placed "upside down and backwards", and on the wrong shelf to boot. The book also, literally, shocked her hand when she touched it. When Prince Oliver starts talking to her, and telling her all about the life he has outside of the story at first Delilah (along with her mother) thinks she must be going crazy, but it doesn't talk long before Delilah and Oliver start concocting a way for him to escape the confines of his pages so they can live happily ever after. The two come up with some ingenious ideas, but discover that whatever they do causes the story to "reset" itself as soon as the book is closed, and everything goes back to the way it was. There are so many other things to consider as well. For instance, if Oliver does manage to escape from the story will still he be four inches high and two dimensional? How will he function in this other world that has computers and other electronics unknown to his people?

In one early attempt to be together Delilah and Oliver discover that the pages of the book act as a barrier between them. Oliver suggests tearing the page to see it he can get out through the rip. Delilah, however, is horrified at the idea of ripping a library book. (Somethings are more important than true love, after all). But his smile "the one that makes [her] feel like [she's] the only person in the world" convinces her to make the tiniest, most minute, infinitesimal tear"so they can test their theory on a spider Oliver found. It takes a lot of patience to make love work. Is there any way these two star-crossed lovers can be together?

Some good metafiction, and problem solving going on with this one. I liked it better than I thought I would.

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