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When Elizabeth Valchar hears an annoying thumping the morning of her 18th birthday --- after a night of partying with her five closest friends --- she believes the noise is from a fish trapped between her father’s yacht and the dock. Unable to rouse her pals, she goes alone to investigate. What she discovers is a dead girl floating in the water, dressed in a pink sweater and gemstone-studded white cowgirl boots. She screams when she recognizes the boots as one of her birthday presents. The dead girl is Liz.

"As well as being an enchanting ghost story, BETWEEN is a wonderfully complex and moving novel."
At first, Liz doesn’t believe she’s dead and then struggles to find out what happened. When the police are called, her friends claim not to have seen or heard anything. At her funeral, people believe Liz had been drinking too much, and with her low blood sugar, they think she stumbled and fell, and drowned. But Liz is a strong swimmer who has always been around boats and practically grew up at the beach.
Along with the shock of finding out she’s dead, she’s confused as to why she is in the company of Alex Berg, a not-so-well-known student who was killed a year earlier by a hit-and-run driver. As she tries to understand her connection with Alex, she travels back to witness her life and discovers she wasn’t the person she thought she was.
Liz watches her friends and family deal with her death, and views herself as an outsider. When she travels back to her younger self, the reader learns along with Liz that she hasn’t always led a charmed life. She lost her mother at a tender age, and shortly afterwards her father married his high school sweetheart, whose daughter becomes Liz’s stepsister and best friend. Liz’s friends react differently to her death. Her stepsister tries to give solace to Richie, but Richie is no saint, either. The characters of Liz, Richie and Alex are especially well drawn.
As well as being an enchanting ghost story, BETWEEN is a wonderfully complex and moving novel. Jessica Warman paints a vivid and disturbing picture of high school life from both ends of the popularity spectrum. Along with the fascinating ghost story, she weaves in serious issues, including underage drinking, illegal drug use, anorexia, bullying by actions and exclusion, the risks that caring teachers take when trying to help troubled students, and the damage to teenagers by indulgent, neglectful or indifferent parents.
I highly recommend BETWEEN as a book that all teens, high school teachers and parents of teens should read. It truly is a remarkable story with a haunting message.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on November 21, 2011

by Jessica Warman

  • Publication Date: August 2, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Romance
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 0802721826
  • ISBN-13: 9780802721822