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Book Cover Image: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth ScottTitle: Between Here and Forever

Author: Elizabeth Scott

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

“Abby knows she’s nothing like her older sister Tess. Popular, beautiful, and outgoing, Tess was loved by everyone and the star of her family. And poor Abby was always left behind, nursing her bruised ego…and one important summer, her heart. Abby has erected a wall around her that she’s determined no one will ever break down again.

Then the accident happens, and everything changes in an instant. Now Tess lies in a coma in the hospital, and Abby is desperate for her sister to wake up. Lost and confused, Abby misses her sister…but more than that, Abby has no idea who she’s supposed to be without Tess overshadowing her. Day after day her sister sleeps while Abby sits at her bedside.
It’s at the hospital that Abby meets Eli, the most gorgeous boy she’s ever seen…with the most troubling secret. Despite his intense good looks he’s shockingly shy, and when Abby finds out why she realizes she’s found a kindred spirit. Maybe, just maybe, Abby can let her guard down and trust this guy. And he just might be the one to help her see herself for who she really is.

But in the midst of this budding new relationship, Abby learns a shocking truth about Tess. Turns out this carefree girl had a secret life, one that was too painful and too personal to share. In order for Abby to understand the truth that was always in front of her eyes, all while allowing herself to love and be loved, she must put her trust in the one person she’s always pushed aside: herself.”

Thoughts: Elizabeth Scott’s Between Here and Forever is a rather dark coming-of-age drama. Abby has lived in the shadow of her sister forever, but when Tess hits a patch of ice, crashes her car and falls into a coma, Abby really struggles to separate her identity with that of her sister. The true tragedy is not the fact that a teenage girl is left in a coma, possibly never to wake up, but rather how inferior Abby feels in comparison to Tess and how she has let that impact every relationship she has.

As Abby struggles to find a way to wake Tess up, it really is Abby’s own awakening that captures the heart of the reader. As with most novels of this sort, Abby’s knowledge of her sister is imperfect, but she has let it cloud her entire being, to the point where she does not even believe in her own happiness. The inevitable discoveries of Tess’ true character make for a predictable but still effective plot.

As one might expect, there is a lot of introspection and angst-y self-dialogue as Abby faces her crossroad. It is a bit over-dramatic but remains authentic to a teenager’s voice in which the end of the world is as simple as saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. The descriptions are fairly superficial, which again is symbolic of a teenager’s point of view in which life is still extremely superficial. As Abby matures and faces some stark realizations, so too does the narration.

Between Here and Forever is another example of a young adult novel that does not cross the generational gap very well. It isn’t that it is a horrible story. There is a lot to like about it, including the feelings of unworthiness Abby feels about her friendship with Claire and burgeoning relationship with Eli. However, there is little that is new in this well-trod path of a coming-of-age story. Even the truth about Tess, which is meant to be shocking, is anything but surprising by the time of the big reveal. For younger audiences, however, Ms. Scott does present much food for thought on the idea of self-identity and the need to seek the truth during introspection. Unfortunately, as an adult, I’ve already been there and done that, and I do not necessarily want to go through it again.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster‘s Galley Grab for my e-galley!

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