Sunday, February 14, 2021

Review: The In-Between by Rebecca K.S. Ansari

by Rebecca K.S. Ansari
Release Date: January 26th 2021
2021 Waldon Pond Press
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062916099
Genre: Fiction / Juvenile / Mystery / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

Cooper is lost. Ever since his father left their family three years ago, he has become distant from his friends, constantly annoyed by his little sister, Jess, and completely fed up with the pale, creepy rich girl who moved in next door, who won’t stop staring at him.

So when Cooper learns of an unsolved mystery his sister has discovered online, he welcomes the distraction. It’s the tale of a deadly train crash that occurred a hundred years ago in which one young boy among the dead was never identified. The only distinguishing mark on him was a strange insignia on his suit coat, a symbol no one had seen before or since. Jess is fascinated by the mystery of the unknown child—because she’s seen the insignia. And, she tells Cooper, he has too.

It’s the symbol on the jacket of the girl next door.
My Thoughts
The In-Between is a contemporary juvenile fiction book that really had everything for me: ghostly elements, twists and turns, real-life issues, family problems, a mystery, and solid storytelling.  I actually knew very little going into this book as I don't tend to read the descriptions when I choose a book to review, so I am always surprised by the story, and I have to say, I actually read this in one sitting as I was so engrossed in the story.  
This story is sort of a cross between a mystery, a fantasy, and a heartfelt look into a family struggling to cope with issues of abandonment, fear, despair, loneliness, and invisibility.  I loved the mystery and the kids' search for a reason why they are the only ones who can see the house and the girl across the street and how that affects their lives.  I love how they get into trouble for staying up too late and being on their technological devices too long, plus I thought the author's sneaky way of showing how difficult it is to use Google to search for information was ingenious.  I was a little skeptical of how easily they did find their information though as my experience as a teacher is that kids don't usually know how to really separate the good research information from poor at this age and they were only 10 and 12 years old.  Yes, they know how to look up stuff, but they don't really know how to USE it.  It was still interesting though.
I loved the fantastical element in this story and thought it was well done.  Everything tied really well into the mystery and made sense.  There were a lot of twists and turns and there were a couple of things I missed and didn't expect; it is always fun to be taken by surprise.  
The best part of this book though, was the exploration of anger issues and abandonment issues.  All of the characters were dealing with some type of abandonment, either through divorce, being left behind, death, or something or other.  The main characters had a father who never took interest in them or their lives, and the children were dealing with being 'invisible' to him and trying to cope with the idea of him being more interested in his new family.  I thought the author dealt with these emotions very well and in such a way other kids could relate to as well.  There were times when even my heart was breaking for these kids and what they were going through. Some adults can be so thoughtless.
The characters themselves were quite interesting and I enjoyed all of them.  I loved how Cooper teased his mom when she served them eggs yet again for dinner as it reminded me of the days when I gave my kids soup and grilled cheese when we just didn't have time for anything else.  Jess was diagnosed with diabetes and the book also delves into how the family copes with their fear for her health and trying to help her stay healthy, but shows her growth as well by trying to make her more responsible for ensuring she knows what to do to stay healthy. It was definitely the family dynamics I loved the most and enjoyed so much as it reminded me of the crazy days when my daughter was competing at a high level in gymnastics and our lives were so, so crazy.  Cooper was struggling with major anger issues over his parents' divorce and wasn't very nice to his sister, Jess, but it was nice to see the two of them learn to depend on each other throughout the book and realize their own relationship wasn't destroyed because of the actions of their dad.  A lot of character development happening in this book. 
The In-Between was an interesting exploration of friendship, loss, family, death, and how we are all connected at some level.  It also explored the feelings of invisibility some children face when their parents are going through divorce or other difficulties in their lives with compassion and feeling.  This book drew me in with its beautiful writing and fascinating story.  I highly recommend this book for those who are looking for something with a deeper meaning, but fun as well.



  1. Replies
    1. I find that juvenile fiction covers are so fascinating as they are really geared to attracting young readers to their books. I wish more effort was put into some of the adult covers at times.