Ellie Moss is moving away from her ex-best friend, away from Jackson High School and away from The Worst Year of Her Life. It will be a New Beginning, so she can become New Ellie – the Ellie who is pretty, smart and popular.
But then, a terrible car accident changes her life forever. Reeling from the shock of losing one of her parents, Ellie starts her new high school and meets a new friend.
Madeline is everything that Ellie wants to be: beautiful, bold and brave. But as Madeline’s influence over Ellie grows, and her life begins to spiral out of control, Ellie starts to question if she can trust her – and, more to the point, can Ellie even trust herself?
Because Ellie knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?
The In-Between is Barbara Stewart's debut novel, aimed at a Young Adult market and was published in the UK in paperback by Pan Macmillan on 27 March 2014.
Sometimes I'm really envious of young people today, they have such a wide range of fiction to choose from, far more than was available when I was in my teens. I seemed to make the transition from children's books to adult fiction in one huge leap. One day I was reading The Famous Five and Nancy Drew and then all of a sudden my bookshelves were filled with Judith Krantz and Shirley Conran. Thinking back, that is quite a leap!
Barbara Stewart's debut novel The In-Between is not the easiest story to read. With dark and difficult themes, it is a story that will made the reader question the lead character Ellie thoughout.
Ellie and her family are moving away. They are going to make a new start and Ellie has promised to become New Ellie. Old Ellie was overweight, she was drab and she tried to take her own life. New Ellie will lose weight, be bright and funny. She will wear colourful clothes and she will do well at school.
Whilst on this journey to the New Beginning, the new, brighter future is snatched away in moments. A car accident leaves Ellie with just one parent - they are certainly going to start anew, but not as planned.
When Ellie meets Madeline, she can't quite believe that such a pretty and clever girl could want to be friends with her. It's at this point that the reader begins to wonder just what is happening. It's clear that Madeline is not just the girl next door - is this all some sort of supernatural episode, or is Ellie suffering from some sort of psychosis?
There is a sense of disorder about The In-Between, but this just emphasises Ellie's state of mind, and for me, the questioning and the uncertainty were what made the story all the more enjoyable. I'm sure though that many readers will hate this, and I'm positive that this novel is going to be a 'love it' or 'hate it' type of book.
The beauty of this novel is that it will be a very different story for each reader, depending on what the reader chooses to believe. I'm not a huge fan of paranormal fiction, and I want to believe that Ellie was suffering episodes of psychosis brought on by a mental illness. There are certain descriptions that ring so true for me, having worked with young adults with mental illness I recognise many of the things that Ellie claims, and some of her behaviours. Other readers will disagree, and see ghosts and spirits. And that's fine, and that's what is so clever about The In-Between.
Dark, uncomfortable yet oddly compelling at the same time. The In-Between is very well written, absorbing story that will certainly create a lot of debate.
My thanks to Emma from Pan Macmillan who sent my copy for review.
Barbara Stewart earned an M.F.A in creative writing from Wichita State University.
The In-Between is her first novel.
She lives with her husband in the Catskill Mountains of New York
For more information visit her website www.barbara-stewart.com
Check out her Facebook page Follow her on Twitter @BarbStewartYA