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The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
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The Beautiful Between

by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

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Connelly has told her friends that her parents were divorced. Although she knew her father died when she was dead she never knew the details until her boyfriends encourages her to ask her mother for them after they all attend his younger sister's funeral. A fast paced books that explores helps teen understand what people go through when there are fatal illnesses in a family. ( )
  MarthaL | Mar 5, 2011 |
"If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.

If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.

This lovely and memorable debut by Alyssa B. Sheinmel contains many of the hallmark themes found in young adult literature—friendship, coming of age, finding a place to belong, and overcoming the death of a loved one. Emotionally moving from start to finish, The Beautiful Between introduces a strong new voice to the genre, a voice with a long future ahead of it."

The summary above comes from Goodreads.

Jeremy, royalty of New York and the school Connelly attends, befriends Connelly under the pretense of helping her with her physics if she'll help his with his SAT vocabulary. She is more than shocked but readily agrees. He sits with her regularly as they watch the girl that sits across from them cut lettuce slices into squares and eat them. They don't talk while they watch her slowly dwindle away with anorexia until she's checked into a hospital for her disease.

Then, they start to study together. They are only friends but they bond over studying and a surprising secret. Connelly likes Kate, Jeremy's sister as much as she likes Jeremy. Kate is in 7th grade but hangs out with the 11th graders, she's that likeable and charming. She makes Connelly feel like she belongs with Jeremy as friends maybe more, but at least that they are alike.

Then, as tragedy strikes in Jeremy's family, he begins to call Connelly at odd hours to meet him. And, she becomes part of the royalty, invited to parties thrown by people she'd never thought would have invited her much less known her name.

Things come to a climax when Jeremy's tragedy peaks and he begs Connelly to get the answers she needs about her father's death.

The story is told from Connelly's point of view and it's easy to warm up to her. On the other hand, I found it hard to figure Jeremy out. He was erratic and cryptic and only made sense at the very end of the novel for one betrayal. I'm hoping there will be a follow up, but I don't see how there can be with the closure Jeremy and Connelly got. I just felt like so much was left up in the air between them.

Despite all that, I enjoyed the book and couldn't put it down. It was a very quick read and I will definitely read another novel from this author.

It dealt with a delicate subject in a neutral way letting the reader fill in the blanks and didn't dwell on the subject. ( )
  hrose2931 | Sep 28, 2010 |
Connely Sternin is working hard on keeping her grades up and studying for the SAT's. It's her Junior year and things are going well in her academics until she becomes lost and frustrated within her Physics Class. If she doesn't do something about it one low grade can throw her chances of going to the School of her choice out the window.

The reader learns of Connely's concept of her school. A royal kingdom filled with Princesses, dukes, and Nobles. But only one person is the Prince- Jeremy Cole, the handsome, popular, and son of a great and rich family. Connely is "The Rapunzel" of the story, not locked away by a wicked witch in her apartment but by books and vocabulary, not to mention her own secrets and fantasies of a different life.

Then one day out of the blue during lunch, Jeremy arrives at Connely's table and offer's to tutor her in Physics in exchange that she helps him with his SAT words. What seems to be just an ordinary study session is just the beginning of a beautiful bond and friendship in which Connely learns that behind the popular, outgoing, and glamorous Prince, lies a secret that only she knows and the more she learns about it, the more it involves her and her own secrets.

Every study session Connely and Jeremy become closer, through homework and secrets. Sometimes the truth can hurt and be quite haunting, but without it the darkness can drive you mad. Through the lesson of trust and friendship, the bond between is simply Beautiful.

When taking a fairy tale concept and turning it into a contemporary story, it can have one of two results- a bad take on a story in which the modern twist clashes horribly with that of the fairytale or a well written story where the author does not rely on the fairy tale to tell his or her story and the plot is well written to give the reader a sense of "surprise" while reading the story

In The Beautiful Between, Alyssa B. Sheinmel does not disappoint the reader with her take on a modern story while using the fairytale of Rapunzel as her "guide". When you read the synopsis, i'm sure most people would automatically assume that this story is just a remake of Rapunzel ( I have seen other reviews in which people have stated this and believe me, they were in for a surprise) But please be aware that this story does not do that.

I believe that it's a really refreshing approach in writing stories based off a fairytale- instead of changing the character's names or a few bits of plot here and there, why not make the story YOUR OWN? You create a plot entirely different but use the actual story as more of a foundation to help you develop and entwine both concepts- This is exactly what the author does in this book and she created a very touching story. ( )
  Euphoria13 | Jun 16, 2010 |
Connelly Sternin and Jeremy Cole have little in common. For one thing, Jeremy is at the top of the popularity chain, while Connelly keeps more to herself. Their lives don’t cross…but when they do start talking, they strike up a friendship that Connelly can make neither heads nor tails of. Can his newfound attention towards her have something to do with Connelly’s father, who died when she was very young and whose death is still a mystery to her? What secrets are Jeremy hiding from her?

I have to give credit where credit is due: I’m absolutely flabbergasted with how whoever wrote the synopsis of this book managed to twist it in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with the real story whatsoever. Seriously, that sort of twisting is an incredible accomplishment, a fabulous marketing ploy. For THE BEAUTIFUL BETWEEN is nothing close to what it sounds like it would be about, and it’s left me disappointed and even frustrated.

Most unforgivably, the characters and their interactions with one another felt extremely artificial. I get the feeling that the author tried to present Connelly as the quiet and reserved teen bookworm who has more to her than her classmates realize, but the fact of the matter is that she never grows into the reader’s mind beyond a sullen and passive girl whose fairy tale extended metaphors get tiring and trite within the first 30 pages. She only waits, waits, waits throughout the whole book for Jeremy to show up when he needs her, and even then he never treats her as a good friend, but more like a sounding board for his cryptically “thought-provoking” musings. Jeremy, who’s supposedly this popular and nice guy but whose behavior towards Connelly only make him seem like a tool, using her to get the empathy he thinks she can give him.

Indeed, neither Connelly nor Jeremy (nor, actually, any of the other characters) feel like they’ve been fully realized: there’s something about their motivations, actions, and words that never quite line up. They are like cardboard figures acting the part of emotionally distraught, history-laden high school classmates in different social strata drawn together by mutual experiences and emotions. As a result, we can only read about them as if they’re 500 miles away on the other side of a bulletproof, shatterproof foot-thick glass wall.

It is furthermore unclear as to what this book’s main purpose or point is. The book jacket synopsis makes it sound like it will be about the healing powers of a blossoming relationship between Jeremy and Connelly. Instead, the plot waffles between Connelly’s long-suppressed desire to find out what happened to her father, and Jeremy’s “secret,” which, when finally revealed, is built up so insufficiently and artificially that I was more disappointed than sympathetic (a sad thing indeed, as the secret is actually quite sad). The ending wraps things up fairly neatly—which is a mixed blessing: it ties things up before we are ever connected with the story, but, at less than 200 pages, we are already ready for the blandness to be over.

I’m going to stop here before I get really pissed off, because this is pretty much like the realistic fiction version of the passive-heroine/wish-fulfillment-male’s-attention trope that too often pervades paranormal romance (only this one supposedly has a family emotion twist that makes it more “valid”). I’m pretty angry when I think about how undeveloped characters can masquerade as deep people if you just throw the right unconventional heartwrenching problems in. A book has to be more than the sum of its parts, and even though this one might have the right parts—an introverted bookworm protagonist (so, y’know, we can relate to her), a heartthrob nice guy (so, y’know, we can like him, and like him with her), and a deep familial problem (so, y’know, we can sympathize with the characters’ troubles)—it doesn’t ever come together. ( )
  stephxsu | May 19, 2010 |
All too often when I pick up books, I feel like I can easily predict coming conflicts and/or resolutions. It's refreshing to pick up a novel and have it truly surprise you with how its events play out. Alyssa Sheinmel's debut novel managed to do just that.

The Beautiful Between doesn't have a traditional plot. The story is more about the characters and their growth than about what happens to them. Connelly was a pretty lonely character at the outset of the novel. Her loneliness sets the tone for the story and gives us, and her, more insight into the loneliness of those around her. Connelly and the characters the fill her world are all well-developed. Each of them carries their own burdens and, I have to say, they are a depressing bunch. However, death and lies will do that to a person and all of them must cope.

The events of the novel revolve around the relationship that Connelly forms with Jeremy. They find solace, openness and honesty with one another in a world populated my tight-lipped adults. Not only is their friendship touching, but it's also novel in that it doesn't evolve into a trite romance...

To continue reading this review visit my blog, The Eclectic Book Lover. ( )
  Jac8604 | May 11, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375861823, Hardcover)

If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.

If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.

This lovely and memorable debut by Alyssa B. Sheinmel contains many of the hallmark themes found in young adult literature—friendship, coming of age, finding a place to belong, and overcoming the death of a loved one. Emotionally moving from start to finish, The Beautiful Between introduces a strong new voice to the genre, a voice with a long future ahead of it.
 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:54 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Connelly Sternin feels like Rapunzel, locked away in her Upper East Side high-rise apartment studying for the SAT exams, until she develops an unlikely friendship with her high school's Prince Charming and begins to question some of the things that have always defined her life.… (more)

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