Jodi Picoult is one of those famous authors whose name is printed larger than the title on the cover of a book. Many have read at least one of her bestselling novels. She is a master at taking a difficult issue, representing all aspects of it through her character’s perspectives, and delivering a good storyline with lots of plot and conflict.
‘Between the Lines’ is Picoult’s first young adult novel and it is unique because she wrote it together with her teenage daughter Samantha. What they set out to write was a timeless, ageless, old fashioned fairy tale with a modern romantic twist for a new generation. It would be visually pleasing as well, with beautiful illustrations and a story that would stand the test of time. In this I think they succeeded except that I think the target audience would be younger than typical YA age, more like 9 – 12 range.
In the introduction Picoult writes about how she and her daughter worked together on the novel, not only doing the hard work of imagining how the story would be written and where it would go, but taking turns typing and saying most of the lines out loud.
Imagine if characters had a life of their own when the reader wasn’t around? And what if the characters were tired of being stuck in a story that always had the same ending? What if the reader could help a character escape? This of course is fantasy. By definition a fantasy is imagining the impossible or improbable. Fantasy is important, especially for children. It allows children to vicariously experience things like love, longing, fear, failure, anger etc., all in a safe environment so they can wonder about how they themselves would react.
Picoult says her fans asked her to write something for their children, to introduce them to her writing until they were old enough to handle her heavier adult books. She has delivered, and this one will live happily ever after with all of her other novels.