Monday, October 26, 2015

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Congratulations to Clara Gillow Clark who won "Diary of a Waitress" off last week's blog.
Fans of Between the Lines, a young adult novel that crosses back and forth between fantasy and contemporary fiction, will be happy with the recent release of Off the Page (Delacurte Press, 2015); the companion book which Jodi Picoult wrote in collaboration with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer. [Please note that the quotes I have selected below are from the audio book. Since I often listened while I was driving in the car, I did my best to quickly record favorite lines--when I was stopped at a traffic light or back home!]
In Between the Lines readers meet Delilah, a teenager who has fallen in love with Oliver, a prince in a fairy tale. Through an amazing amount of persistence, romance, and a sprinkling of magic, the two successfully bring Oliver into the real world by having him trade places with Edgar, the son of Jessamine Jacobs (the fictional author of Between the Lines).

In this sequel, Oliver discovers some of the pleasures and pitfalls of American life that is far different from anything he has experienced in his fairy tale kingdom. He finds out that refrigerators don't magically restock themselves and real girls, like Delilah, get jealous when other girls at school crush on him. "I've been playing a role ever since I got here," he comments. "[But] I don't know how to be a teenage boy. I only know happily ever after." At one point he acknowledges, "Being in the book was so easy. In the script there were no apologies. I wish someone could turn the pages back."

Delilah on the other hand observes, "Who would dream that having my dreams come true would suck? Now I have to share him with the world." She thought he would be the outsider, but instead, "He is gaining in popularity and I'm the same. The longer he hangs out with the cool kids the less he'll hang out with me." She admits to becoming a jealous monster who she doesn't like. 

Edgar, meanwhile, is caught inside Between the Lines. And since Delilah has the only physical/real copy of the book and she is busy keeping up with Oliver, the book never gets opened and he has no idea what is going on in real life. He observes, "Without a reader, the words just sit on the page, waiting to come alive." 

I wish I could give the book an unequivocal five star rating, but although it's plotted and written superbly, I can't. When Oliver first comes to Delilah's school, he meets a guy who is gay. When others call him a "fairy" Oliver misunderstands and a scuffle ensues. The guy is head of the LGBT club at school which once explained, Oliver heartily supports. This character makes only a cameo appearance and it appears to me, was thrown in to make the book politically correct. The character offers no substantial contribution to the plot and I find his presence offensive. 

There are many incredible lines about books, life, and play-acting in this multilayered and multi-point of view young adult novel. Picoult and Van Leer's collaboration have produced another fast paced romance. 
Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer


Linda Phillips said...

Thanks for this honest appraisal of a book that does, indeed, sound like it has many things going for it. It takes courage to include diversity of any kind in a book, whether it is a good fit or not, and it takes courage to review such books in an objective way.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda. Appreciate your comment!

Rosi said...

Thanks, Carol, for telling me about this one. I like Jodi Picoult, so I will probably try to pick this up. I also think it's so important to have books that address such issues. I appreciate your honest review.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosi. I look forward to reading your review of this book on your blog!

Linda A. said...

I like that you gave an honest account. Sometimes where diversity is concerned, we might mask our honest feelings.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, LInda. Appreciate your comment.

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