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I'm immortally interested in cultural/literary deconstructions, feminism, anti-racism, South Korea, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, food (including but not limited to maple butter, tomatoes, and toast), fairy tales, parentheses, paper airplanes, films and books.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Between Not My Thing and OK (With Minor Gushing)

Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

Between Here and Forever had amazing potential. The setting was perfect, the conflict was perfect; you just needed the right balance. But unfortunately, Elizabeth Scott wasn't able to get it just right.

We start off with the introduction of Tess and Abby. Tess is that Perfect Sister. The one that everyone loves, the one you are constantly compared to. I know how that feels. God, do I know how that feels. With my extensive family, I was compared to everyone my mom could think of. After a while that, it sort of became a joke and just brushed past me. But does Abby let this pass by her when her sister is for all intents and purposes half alive?


Abby does not let the years of shadow pass by her.

And she doesn't let you forget it.

I would be much more lenient if Abby had a strong reason. Such as if she had been in the car crash as well and when it had happened, her parents ran to her sister instead of her. Boy, would I have understood that kind of angst. But other than - SPOILER! - the fact that Abby's first crush was in love with her sister (but really, she knew this so how is she so utterly and completely affected? Then again, teenage hormones. YA lit. Le sigh) she suffers from the same thing that every other girl with a more capable older sister does (albeit it might be worse because of the smaller community, I dunno).

In any case, it's understandable, it's realistic to be overshadowed by someone close to you. But it's very, very annoying to read and to be reminded of it at the end of every freaking chapter. And there are many chapters, because they're only a page or three long, which means many, many reminders. It's not even the subtlety that Scott could have handled better but the overall theme of getting over the sister. It starts out well but diminishes into a kind of corny afterschool special. Especially since Abby won't shut up. (You see what I'm doing here? that doesn't annoy you? really? Then I guess you don't understand that what I'm saying. I'll have to repeat it.)

OK, that is, after a few days of rest from constant reading, the only thing I can remember to be bad about the book. Oh, the corniness is there but it's mostly in anything involving Abby and Jack.

Now for the good stuff:

Raise your hand if you hate the all around perfect, drop dead gorgeous alpha male, super popular player male hero in about most of the YA books to date. Oh there is definitely one in here, but the only thing that I can remotely say about him is from everything listed above the one thing he has going for him is the "gorgeous" part.

Eli is about the most ADORABLE MALE LEAD I'VE READ FROM YA LIT IN AGES. No, he is not adorable because of the way he *sparkles* or the way he proclaims his love for our sometimes annoying heroine, but because of his all around character, his loneliness, the way he taps his fingers, - SPOILER! - his heartbreaking OCD and his amazing, almost crippling shyness. I love Elizabeth Scott for introducing me to this real, awkward, beautiful (soul-wise) person. OK, maybe I'm gushing now but if you read the book, you'll understand.

Another thing that I love, love, LOVE about Scott is the introduction of a very heartrending and very life-affecting OCD. Most portrayals in media and sadly even in real-life of OCD is a horrifying mockery of something that can literally steal your life away. I have OCD and I knew immediately what the character was going through when I saw it. At first I was absolutely furious at Scott for adding this in. I was assuming she would make some trite portrayal based on media coverage and was about to slam my laptop face down when I calmed myself down.

OCD may not ruin my life but it makes it struggle. Before I was diagnosed I recognized what I had through reading medical and psychological journals. I've accepted and whenever I hear someone using OCD as a throwaway phrase I want to snap at them. My parents didn't believe it when I was diagnosed. They thought like everyone else that people with OCD are neat freaks and I wasn't a neat freak but I couldn't go to sleep without playing a certain song and sleeping in a certain position with my pillows tilted a certain way and my arm curled around my bear turned in a certain direction. And that's just one of my "habits". Vinaya explains as well just how debilitating severe OCD can be. Thankfully unlike the character diagnosed as such, I don't suffer as much.

Now what else I can say about Scott is that I do worship at her feet for having a male interest who is of mixed race. Thank you. Finally, someone sees you don't need to be blonde/red-haired/flowy bronze-colored locks to be gorgeous. Eli is honestly a character I would have followed on to a standalone separate sequel solely in his head. I would be sold in a heartbeat to Scott if she wrote a book on him. Or even one on Tess, whom the protagonist describes as dark at certain times and veering to the insane as well which is absolutely fascinating. Twenty times more than the protagonist herself.

Really, Scott, you better not take my advice the wrong side up and make a sequel in the head of the inferior/sister-complex-obsessed Abby. Do not subject me to that torture just so I can swallow up as many Eli cuteness as possible.

Also I must say that the irony of Eli being such a solitary creature yet so fantasized by the outside world is something I've seen done way too many times but much, hugely, better here. If only Abby wouldn't reference it in regarding herself, I would have wanted more of it.

Frankly, if Scott switched sisters, this would have been a hilarious and engaging and absolutely fantastic piece of work. SPOILER! An older, popular closeted lesbian trying to convince an incredibly beautiful boy to fall in love with her younger sister would have been an awesome, awesome book. especially if Eli still did fall in love with her. I think that reading about Tess coming to terms with admitting her sexuality and coming to terms with just how twisted she is would have been a great book, but alas LGBT is not mainstream media. And *ahem* can I just say that I predicted Tess's sexuality at what, page 20? After reading about Beth's sudden change of heart - no wait, after Tess being abnormally angry at Claire for her pregnancy. Am I strange? Because I'm not a lesbian but that was so, so evident and yet Abby was portrayed as being incredibly insightful for having thought of it "so quickly!". . .

This book was engaging at certain parts, Book-Throwing worthy at several parts but it has landed on my very prized shelf of Guilty Pleasures with the points it has scored. I have very few Guilty Pleasures as they must be extremely terrible but have qualities so redeeming you can't help cheering when you see them.

All in all=.

*Note: this book is an ARC provided by the publishers for review.
**Summary taken from Goodreads.

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