The In-Between by Barbara StewartReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

Sometimes I read a book and just can’t put it down. The In-Between by Barbara Stewart is definitely one of those books. The In-Between follows fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss’ mental journey as she deals with the death of her father as well as the presence of another being: Madeline Torus. I found Stewarts’ writing style engaging and unique. She did a great job pulling the reader into Elanor Moss’ head as she grappled with reality.

Elanor, young and troubled, wants to start over new with her parents in a small town in Pennsylvania. After a failed suicide attempt, an escape is just what she needs. However, on the way to her new life, Elanor and her family get in a tragic car accident that leaves Elanor without one of her parents and with a new friend – Madeline. As the book progresses, Elanor faces the challenge of trying to figure out who and what Madeline is. Elanor feels disconnected from her family and her life. In the end, Elanor must choose between her new friend and reality.

I really enjoyed this novel. I loved how twisted and confused the main character was. It was interesting to read about the mental struggles involved with death and the paranormal. I saw Elanor grow and change as a young person and felt what she felt.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the end of the novel. It felt rushed and unfinished to me. I didn’t get the sense of closure that I so desperately wanted. I also felt that the plot was a little disorganized and unexplained. Some events came out of nowhere and really weren’t dealt with in a way that made me understand what was going on as a reader. I think that this may have been because of the mental state Elanor was in for most of the novel. To her, a lot of things were confusing and unexplained. I still would have liked a little clarity, though.

The In-Between is one of those books that are dark but riveting at the same time. The book isn’t that depressing; it just deals with heavy issues that a lot of people go through in their lives. I loved the writing style. It read more like a journal but without the dates and informalities that journal-style writing tends to bring. I only wish that the book was a few pages longer so that I could enjoy being in Elanor’s head a little longer.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is planning on attending Graduate School for English Rhetoric and Composition. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.