by Marisa Calin
To be published by Bloomsbury
on August 7, 2012
Source: Received e-ARC from NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure statement here.
What did I think?
I enjoyed Between You and Me. I always appreciate it when an author goes out on a limb, and I loved the creative risks that Marisa Calin took with this story.
How was the format? I'm always going to prefer stories told in prose. I haven't read many screenplays, but this seemed to me a combination of screenplay and first-person narration. Then there's a cool story-within-a-story, as the story incorporates the play that Phyre is starring in, a play that's also about the magic and disappointments of young love.
"I want to be that girl: the girl kissed passionately after evil is vanquished, with fireworks and an orchestra, and it's everything she wants."This aspect of the book -- the one that deals with all the agonies and excitement of falling in love for the first time -- is lovely. Okay, on to Phyre's genderless friend. Was it a gimmick? A little bit. I was distracted as I read, looking for clues. Hoodie? Okay, both girls and guys wear those. Smiling? Guys don't smile as much as girls. Terse? Well, guys are terse but so am I, and I'm a girl. I also hate shopping and asking for directions.
If I had to describe Between You and Me in two words, I'd choose clever and coy. The format of this book and way it uses that format to play with gender stereotypes is very clever. The book's coyness comes out in the way that it hints but never confirms. Does Phyre have a platonic girl crush on her female drama teacher, or is she discovering something new about her sexual orientation? Readers may disagree. Similar questions could be posed about Phyre's relationship with "You," her best friend. Does Phyre's crush on her teacher help her see her relationship with "You" in a new light?
Between You and Me deliberately leaves most of these questions tantalizingly unanswered. The book is a Rorschach test of sorts to which the reader brings his or her own preconceptions and experiences. If you're looking for something completely different to read, definitely check this one out.
Random fact: the cover of Between You and Me reminds me a lot of the movie poster of the Stanley Kubrick Lolita movie, sans lollipop.