Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Read Between the Lines” as Want to Read:
Read Between the Lines
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Between the Lines

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,748 ratings  ·  322 reviews
Does anyone ever see us for who we really are? Jo Knowles’s revelatory novel of interlocking stories peers behind the scrim as it follows nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day.

Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won’t be the last time a middle finger is raised on thi
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Candlewick Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Read Between the Lines, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Anon At first when I started reading the final chapter, I was confused and thought that Knowles forgot how she had wrote the book. But then I realized it w…moreAt first when I started reading the final chapter, I was confused and thought that Knowles forgot how she had wrote the book. But then I realized it was all on purpose. It was still really good, and I loved what ended up happening, and how it told more of the surrounding people rather than just the focused character, although I do prefer how it was written throughout the rest of the book. It was still amazing, and a really good twist! :)(less)
Olivia it is about a handful of different people from all walks of life who share one day over the course of the novel and who all have one common hand gestu…moreit is about a handful of different people from all walks of life who share one day over the course of the novel and who all have one common hand gesture (which means several things in this book) to bring them together in spirit.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,748 ratings  ·  322 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Read Between the Lines
Carol Royce Owen
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There have been very few times in my career as a teacher that I have thought, "I wish I taught middle or high school. Most often, I say a blessing that I've never had to go that route. But then a book like Read Between The Lines come along and I wish I had students old enough to share it with. I may be able to find some mature 6th graders who will get it and love it, but no...the discussions I would want to have about this one are better for older students.

The story is many stories in one - all
Kelly Gunderman
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Check out this and other reviews on my blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

I actually rated this 4.5 stars, but I'm feeling generous so I'm rounding up to 5!

I absolutely adored this book. The characters, their stories, the settings...everything about this book was so well written and captivating, it made me want to read the entire book without taking a break (and with this one, that's pretty much what I did. Oops.).

There are ten chapters, each narrated by a different character, all living in the same
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, finished-in-2015
Jo Knowles "novel" is more like a series of connected short stories, each overlapping, some sharing common characters from a typical high school with typical high school "sorts" (Breakfast Club without end, amen). The trouble with such a strategy lies in the characterization. None of the characters get a chance to gather traction with the reader. What's more, you will often meet a character never to meet him or her again, except perhaps in passing or by mention of another character much later in ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
This is a smart little book that expertly weaved together several different events taking place over the course of a single day. I loved the complex way it illustrated how our actions can effect others and how decisions we make can cause a ripple around us. It was a quick read, but a lot was packed in here and provides much to linger over long after the final page is read.
Told through ten separate points of view in a short, vignette style, Knowles writes a page-turner set over the course of a single day. Like Siobhan Vivian does in THE LIST, this is a story about what lies beneath the surface of people we see and encounter every day. There's the boy who lives with a distant father; the just-graduated boy who is counting his time before he can move on to his dream job; the brother and sister who are harassed by their neighbor and who live with a mother who is a ho ...more
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. It really made you think, and I loved the multiple perspectives showing all that happened throughout one single day.
Alisha Marie
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Slight disclaimer: I really found Read Between the Lines to be more of a 3-and-a-half-stars kind of book, but I'm being nice and rounding up to four stars instead of rounding slightly down to three stars. Maybe this is because it's been a while since I've been impressed with a young adult book that when Read Between the Lines came to my life, I found myself not wanting to roll my eyes even once at it. And that's a first this year (and probably through much of last year) that that's happened.

I wa
REVIEW: This book left me with mixed emotions. I really liked it and thought it was nice, but it was so darn confusing! Going into this, I thought that it would be like an Ellen Hopkins book that followed different people and would follow them through the story. This was different by that, there was only one “chapter” on each person and they didn’t go back to having another chapter again. I feel like if I knew the setup of this book before going into it, I would’ve been less confused. I’ll warn ...more
Kat Heckenbach
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to be blown away by this book, after reading such glowing reviews. And it did have some good moments. But for the most part, it read like a series of after-school specials. While I did connect to some of the characters, they too often felt one-dimensional, each of them going through the same pattern: pages of angst, followed by an a-ha moment, and then feeling suddenly that everything is going to be just fine, all amid a world where adults are complete mental cases. The tie-toget ...more
This author has a knack for getting teen voices spot on. Each chapter in this book is narrated by a different character, giving different perspectives of the same events. What is probably a fairly normal day is given extra depth when you can see a bit deeper into the feelings and motivations of all the main players. A great book for promoting empathy, and one I think lots of teens will relate to and enjoy.
Jeff Raymond
Jo Knowles is pretty great even when it's a little off the mark, but Read Between the Lines is a complete miss for me, from topic to structure to overall narrative. Inspired by Knowles getting flipped off while driving, too much of this book ultimately made me want to flip it off instead.

The story starts with a kid having his middle finger broken during a basketball game. The story then becomes more of a nihilistic collection of short tales that surround the same group of people. Teens in dead-e
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
Over the course of a day over ten adults and students connected to Irving High School will give or receive the middle finger.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES is in many ways 10 short stories, although some characters showed up in more than one chapter (story). I love Jo Knowles's writing in this and her other books. I can't help rooting for even her most loathsome characters. Each person in READ BETWEEN THE LINES could have had a whole book. Most of the stories felt incomplete and left me hanging. The la
Amireh Clarke
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Read Between the Lines" is a great example of what you see is not always all that there is. Jo Knowles finds a way to intertwine the lives of ten different people whose lives cross with each other at some point or another to help you understand what is really going on. While reading the book, I got to see the truths and secrets of each character; stuff that the other characters didn't even know about each other. I would definitely recommend this book for reading.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2017
There is only one thing about this book that I like. The writing. And that is it. I brought this book in Melbourne and have only struggled my way through it out of guilt because I didn’t want it to be a waste having lugged it all the way home from Melbourne. So, I have been struggling to get through this book since about 3 pages in and have really no idea what it is about. The blurb I have added above sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well that is what sucked me into the book in the first place, b ...more
Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books)
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tbr-2015
Something NEW and fresh!! I love a book that takes a chance... this book is narrated by 10 different people and it SO works

Nate, Claire, Dewey, Jack, Stephen, Keith, Dylan, Lacy, Grace, and Ms. Lindsay. Ten people, one day. This is the story of ten people who are all connected to Irving High in some way and all want to see themselves as something different and/or wonder if anyone ever sees the real them. It's a normal day in a suburban town, but it's on this most ordinary day that these ten peop
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Each chapter in READ BETWEEN THE LINES follows a different person. Most of the narrators are in an elective lit class at the high school, but some are more tangential - neighbors, friends, siblings. The stories aren't in chronological order, although they mostly take place on the same day. The cast of characters quickly becomes familiar, providing a connection point.

Jo Knowles does a wonderful job of differentiating her large cast of narrators. Some are foul mouthed and some are embarrassed by h
Abby Connor
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have loved all of Jo's books so when I say this one is my favorite of hers yet, you know that it was a perfect book. It was just one of those books that makes you feel like you know how to be a better person after reading it. Jo Knowles is a master of conveying emotion through writing and a master of voice. How she managed to take so many different viewpoints and make them so unique to each and every character is beyond me. It just shows how skilled she is that she was not only able to weave a ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles is a solid 5/5.

This book is extraordinary. It challenges the readers mind, and introduces us to the wild, messy (and perhaps provocative) minds of adolescences and young adults.

From a teacher struggling to understand why her peers dislike her, and willing them to read between the lines she holds up, representing her powerful message in the form of three fingers.

To a boy who lives a life of lies. Supposedly happily in love with a stereotypical cheerleader,
The cover intrigued me...the classic "read between the lines" flip-off...I was hooked before I even opened the book.

It was NOT what I thought...a wise-ass YAL of an angst-ridden teen. It's a glimpse into ten lives, all on the same day, all associated in some way to the same high school. Many of the narrators are also associated in some way to the others in the book...

I was reminded of REALM OF POSSIBILITY, by David Levethan...also richly complex and connected even in the isolated stories.

Told b
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive
I'm so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and read this book. I enjoyed each story that was told and I liked how the author showed each character from the pov of at least one other character.

I even liked that the author switched from 1st person to 3rd person for the last chapter. After all, we've all been students and can truly relate to the struggle of being teenagers, but many of us have not been teachers.

Much respect to teachers and I don't blame you if you ever wanted to tell your studen
Danielle Richert
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book caught me by surprise because of its dive into complex and universal issues. Told in ten short vignettes, loosely connected by shared characters, the book takes you through a typical day in the life of students, former students, and their teachers. Each issue the book touches on, from struggling with body image, grieving an unexplained loss, coming out, to breaking away from expectation, is dealt with compassion and authenticity.
Zoe R
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
this book had 336 pages in it and it was great! in all the books i read, this one was different. The author writes his chapters in chapters. i would deffienty to two people
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Holy shit, guys. Jo Knowles, author of See You at Harry's (which I haven't read but have been urged by many to do so), has absolutely clutched it with this one. The story, the characters, the worldbuilding--it's all killer, but (because you know I always have a 'but') it is so blindingly white and plays into what TV Tropes accurately calls Gayngst. Alas, no one's perfect.

Writing Style

Jo Knowles! Queen of my heart! Your prose is on fleek, and it makes my heart sing. You are truly a master

John Gilbert
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow, so much in this book.

It was five stars right up to the last chapter of ten, when Jo seemed to lose all her momentum and mystery, going from related student tales of trauma in a high school where everyone is intertwined. Then the final chapter is virtually unrelated with a lone teacher's experience of not particularly liking teaching or her students. It falls apart at the finish unfortunately.

Prior to that are enthralling tales of trauma, where somehow everyone either gives or gets the finge
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was so well-written! I thought the way all the character's stories interwove and interlocked was just incredible, and I couldn't put it down. I finished the book wanting to know more about every character, and I wish we'd been able to see each character's perspective more than just once--some of the storylines felt unfinished, but perhaps that comes with the territory when a book is set over the course of just one day. I thought the way this book explored the use of the middle finger w ...more
Leah D'Silva
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.75 stars. I really liked this book! Each perspective has 5 mini chapters in it. Although the chapters never fully explain everything, each new perspective allows you to build on previous knowledge. Each new perspective involves a person that has been mentioned in previous chapters and allows you to see a new view on the current happenings of each story. If the author chose, this entire book could have been written from any one of the perspectives. The only thing I didn't like about the book wa ...more
Kirsten Feldman
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's more of a snapshot than a story that progresses, but the characters are wrenchingly lovely and real.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was not smart enough for this last year
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
*3.5 stars
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Kaycee Petersen Book Review #6 1 2 Mar 31, 2018 01:58AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Take Me On (Pushing the Limits, #4)
  • Girls Like Us
  • Luna
  • Noteworthy
  • The Resolutions
  • Truth (XVI, #2)
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • Leap Day
  • Whiskey & Ribbons
  • The Haters
  • Walk the Edge (Thunder Road, #2)
  • 45 Pounds (More or Less)
  • Tempting Juliana (Regency Chase Family, #2)
  • My Kind of Crazy
  • The Art of Temptation (Regency Chase Family Series #3)
  • Princess Ben
  • Patients I Will Never Forget
  • Silver in the Blood
See similar books…
Hi! I'm the author of Where The Heart Is,Still A Work In Progress, Read Between The Lines, Living With Jackie Chan, See You At Harry's, Pearl, Jumping Off Swings, and Lessons From A Dead Girl. I'm available for school, library and book club visits either in person or via Zoom. For more info, please visit Thanks! :-) ...more

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
30 likes · 16 comments
“But then, as she looks at their unsuspecting, uninterested faces, she will start to think about what that really means. That just like there is more to her than what they see, there is more inside each one of them. What’s your story? she will wonder as she scans the room from face to face. And this time, when she pleads with them to read between the lines, she will try to do the same.” 3 likes
“We were outsiders, waiting to become invisible. Waiting to amount to nothing.” 0 likes
More quotes…