The In Between

Little, Brown/Poppy. Jun. 2021. 304p. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780316457712.
Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Tessa, a photography aficionado, lives with her foster parents Vickie and Mel just outside of Atlantic City. Her less-than-perfect childhood has left her with the desire to remain “invisible” until she meets Skylar, who turns her world upside down. The two spend a magical summer together but argue when Tessa thinks Sky, in his efforts to convince her of her artistic worth, is overstepping the boundaries she has set. The night she tries to mend fences, the duo is involved in a car accident, resulting in Sky’s death and Tessa’s brush with the afterlife. In his debut novel, the basis for an upcoming film, Klein tells the couple’s story, alternating between before and after the accident. The “before” chapters explain Tessa’s background, her resulting fears, and the development of her relationship with Sky; the “after” chapters document her attempts to make contact with Sky’s spirit through ADCs (after-death communications) and suggest the direction her life finally takes. The plot is well paced and the dialogue, peppered with cultural references and some cursing, is true-to-form for modern teens without overdoing its attempt to be relevant. Although the after-death concepts may not appeal to all, fans of films such as Ghost will be thrilled by the protagonists’ pre- and post-death romance. Tessa and Sky’s ethnicities aren’t stated.
VERDICT An original take on the personal nature of grief and a strong choice where YA romances are popular.

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