Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Girl In Between

Title:  The Girl In Between
Author:  Sarah Carroll
Publication Information:  Kathy Dawson Books. 2017. 256 pages.
ISBN:  0735228604 / 978-0735228603

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I'm invisible."

Favorite Quote:  "Ghosts can't exist without people. Without people and their pasts and their memories."

The word homeless has a very short definition in the dictionary. As an adjective, the word means "without a home." As a noun, it means "person or persons who lack permanent housing." Some dictionaries expand this a little further to state that the implication is that the person or persons typically live on the street.

Such a short definition for such a complex, thought provoking, emotional subject. The Girl In Between presents a view of the tragedy of homeless life through the eyes of a young girl. She and her mother live in the Castle, at least that is what Ma tells the girl. To stay safe, the girl must not leave the Castle and must certainly stay out of sight of the Authorities for they may take her away from Ma. In the eyes of child, this seems to make sense, and, after all, the Castle is big and all their own.

Translated through an adult readers eyes, this mother and child live in an abandoned building. The mother creates a story to allay the little one's fears and to perhaps provide some semblance of stability.

Ma herself is an intriguing character and, at times, an infuriating one. Alcohol and drugs are involved. Unsavory characters who may wish them harm are involved. A caring grandmother and a home exist, but Ma has left them far behind. On the other hand, the young girl gives the impression of being cared for and being loved. Ma's story is never told in the book. How and why did she end up on the streets with her little girl?

The story is told from the perspective of this young girl. The writing style captures well the innocence of her age and the lack of understanding that is appropriate for her age. As an adult reader, I can see so much of what she does not, and I can understand why she does not. As a parent, I want to reach out and protect this defenseless child from a life on the streets, from the unsavory men in her mother's life, and sometimes from her mother herself. Again, the writing of the book does a beautiful job of eliciting that emotion and that protective instinct.

I do guess the twist in the book relatively early in the book but think that because all the clues that seem clear to me point that way, the book will surprise me and go in a different direction. It does not. However, the emotion of the ending still gets to me, and the lack of surprise does not matter.

This book is the kind of story that stays with you. The young main character and the protective emotions the writing elicits make it memorable. The fact that it takes on the very serious issues of addiction and homelessness in a unique way makes the book memorable. The fact that the book stresses the universality of this story by not naming its characters beyond an identifier such as Ma and the Caretaker makes it memorable. The fact of a seemingly abrupt ending pushes further the message of a harsh truth. The reminder that this fiction represents the reality of so many makes the book memorable. Read it and then think how each one of us can be part of the solution.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment