***Anyone familiar with Picoult’s solo adult books will know they usually involve moral issues and can be very confrontational. The first thing you need to do when you pick up this book: forget about her solo work and remember this is a joint effort. Trust me when I say it is something completely different from any of her previous works. And, boy, is it wonderful. Delilah is a teenager who doesn’t really ‘fit in’ to any of the groups at school and she *gasp* spends her lunchtime in the library. She loves books, but lately there is one book in particular which she has been reading over and over. Between the Lines is an illustrated fairy tale which Delilah found by accident one day in the library. If anyone found out how much she reads it, she’d have no chance of ever being considered anywhere close to normal, but she’s willing to risk it because there is something, someone, making this book more than just your average fairy tale. Prince Oliver is the main character of the fairy tale and lately he’s noticed someone older reading the book. Yes, Oliver, along with all the other characters, is alive inside the book. Each time the book is opened they perform their required roles and act out the story to the reader. However, Oliver is sick of this constant performance and longs for a life where he can do what he wants freely. And that’s where Delilah comes in. So far, no one has ever been so attached to this story, if she loves it so much perhaps she’ll be the one who is willing to hear Oliver’s cry for help. Firstly, let me just say how completely amazing I found this premise. As someone who has always loved reading, I have sometimes wondered what it would be like if the characters in a book were real, if they lived in our world. However, I love the idea that characters in books have their own lives when the book is closed and that they are completely different people from those they play in the book. The idea for the novel was proposed by Van Leer to her mother and I think it is wonderful to see a successful adult author embracing such a magical concept. In terms of the audience for this book, it is wonderful in that it will appeal to a broad age range. I know I would have enjoyed this when I was nine just as much as I do now and I’m sure that re-reading this in a few years I will have the same reaction. That said, I’m sure a lot of adults will not be willing to give it a go because of the fact it is mostly aimed at children and teens. However, I’d love to see parents buying this for their children and sneaking it away to read themselves (as my dad did with Harry Potter) because imagination is a wonderful thing and it’s not something which is just for children. We need more books like this. In terms of the writing, I found it engaging and fast-paced. I thought it would be difficult not to make comparisons with Picoult’s solo work before I started reading, but actually it was simple because this is so radically different from all her other work. I loved the fact that the actual fairy tale Delilah reads in the book is a character in its own right. Although we, as readers, are not able to read the fairy tale in it’s entirety, I really enjoyed reading the sections interspersed throughout the novel. I also loved that I was able to read the fairy tale and then find out from Oliver what happens after that scene when the book is closed. It was like seeing an actor playing their role and then seeing what happens when the director yells ‘Cut!’. I found the writing style to be thoroughly engaging and was struggling to put it down. Delilah was a character who blew me away because, just like Monica Geller and Hermione Granger, I could see so many elements of myself in her. Firstly, she spends her lunchtimes in the library. Finally, a heroine who loves the library! And I love that she does, because I was totally that girl. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have wonderful friends, but I just loved the library (and still do). I LOVE Delilah. I mean, who has not fallen in love/lust with a character from a novel? Looking at the illustrations of Oliver in the book I can totally see the attraction. Her voice as a character was also authentic, and I have no doubt that Van Leer’s input was crucial to this. The cast of storybook characters was fascinating and I really enjoyed seeing their in and out of character personalities. They didn’t just blend into the background behind Oliver and Delilah, but were a crucial part of what made this book so delightful to read. Although the book didn’t end on a cliffhanger and could quite reasonably remain as a stand-alone, there is room for a sequel. This is something Picoult and Van Leer discussed during their promotional even in Brisbane earlier this year. I for one would love to see a sequel, I loved the characters and am interested to see how they deal with some of the issues raised at the conclusion of the novel. “He understood, in that crystalline instant, that courage wasn’t something you were bequeathed at birth, and it wasn’t a lack of fright. It was overcoming you fear, because the ones you loved mattered more.” “At that moment Oliver realized that home is not a place, but rather, the people who love you.” “The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds a house, but the reader makes it a home.” Between the Lines is a truly magical tale for all ages with wonderful characters, an intriguing premise and a witty, engaging writing style. This is the best kind of book: the kind where you can let your imagination run wild and be taken on a journey as the pages turn.