Mrs. S's Reviews > Between You & Me

Between You & Me by Marisa Calin
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's review
Jul 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012-books, read-in-2012
Read in July, 2012

I'm so all over the place on this one. I think it does a lot of big things well, certainly, and I would recommend it for plenty of people. On the other hand...there were some things that bugged me.

1) This book depicts the feelings of a teenage girl who is dealing with a crush on a teacher--a female teacher--when previously she has only had experience with boys her age. While I am a bit touchy about anything that even remotely resembles teacher-student relationships that cross the line, I thought this book handled Phyre's feelings in a way that realistic and sympathetic while also making clear that Mia (the teacher) cared deeply about Phyre as a student--and nothing more. I appreciated the deft handling of what could be really tricky subject matter, and I give bonus points for working in the especially strange and often intense bond student actors sometimes feel with their adult directors (here I'm relating through my own remembered experiences on the student side; my directors and theater teachers rivaled only my parents in terms of influence in my teenage life.)

2) This book did pretty well, I thought, in portraying the way high school theater works; I draw the line at the swimming pool, which I didn't totally think was necessary, but fine--there's no indication that this school district is in any way cash-strapped, so maybe they did go crazy and build a swimming pool in the stage, what do I know (no amount of time will lessen the bitterness my perpetually broke inner-city high school peers and I felt toward the ritzy suburban high school ten minutes away. There were rumors that while I was devoting my Saturdays to building rickety staircases and re-painting old flats for our sets, the suburban kids were doing Titanic the musical with a hydraulic mechanism to sink the ship right into the stage.) But I liked the degree to which the play actually shaped the way Phyre thought about things; that's definitely something I experienced.

3)POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD; ONLY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN READ IN THE GOODREADS SUMMARY, BUT HEY, NOW YOU'VE BEEN WARNED (loudly, sorry for that.) I liked the screenplay and play-within-a-screenplay formats, if only as a novelty--I believe that a kid like Phyre would tell her story that way. That rang true. And I like the idea of the ambiguously-gendered, second-person best friend--but I wish that I hadn't been told from the beginning that the character could be read either way. (I thought maybe that was just the note at the front of the ARC, and that the finished copy wouldn't do that, so I was going to leave it out of my review--but then I realized it's right there in the Goodreads summary. So, the cat's outta the bag, I guess.) I think I would have loved to realize that at the end--like, hey, this character that you thought was a [gender 1]? Could have been a [gender 2], couldn't it? It's a cool device and a lot of care was taken with it. However, going in with that primed in my brain--I couldn't decide. It was a little like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book and checking out all the choices before actually turning to a page (which, ok, I did all the time; yes, I know that's cheating at books; sue me.) So I wound up doing double readings of each scene as I went, where I think I would have preferred to read the whole book again after realizing there was another option. OK, SPOILERS ARE DONE NOW.

In short--this is definitely a story worth reading. I actually talked myself up a star while writing this review, because as I thought back over the story I realized how much I liked. A few distracting things don't take away from a really original, truthful story, and I would recommend this to the following groups of people:

--theater people, especially people who were theater people in high school
--anyone who's been confused about their feelings toward someone
--anyone who's felt ignored by someone they cared about
--anyone who's ever realized they were being a jerk to someone they cared about
--so, basically, all the people, because if you show me someone who says that none of the above apply to him/her, I'll show you a liar.

**Disclosure: I received a free e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
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