The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll

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The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A descriptive story that's intriguing, emotionally engaging, and also manages to be a fairly fast read, with a twist at the end.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 256 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781471160622

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After a family argument, a girl and her mother are stuck out on the streets of Ireland, finding shelter finally in an old, abandoned mill. The mill becomes the girl's castle, where she finally feels safe from the lurking threat of 'the authorities' and some of the strange men in her mother's life. Her mother, however, seems to be tumbling deeper into depression, keeping her daughter locked up, out of sight inside, and now there are strange men in hard hats coming around the mill to measure and make notes. Can the two of them move on, or will they be too late to escape?

The story deals with some dark issues, from a child's point of view. As well as the issues of being homeless, the girl's mother is dealing with depression, and alcohol and drug addiction. These are handled sensitively, I felt, and somehow without being too graphic the book depicts the hardships faced by children of addicts, as well as the struggles of a parent who is trying to stay clean. The girl (I'm not sure that we ever learn her name!) remains positive, and as readers we see her own happy home-making inside the mill, and yet we can also see beyond that, and that she is trapped inside the crumbling old building, and desperate to return to her grandmother's house, or to a home of her own with her mum.

As the girl suspects the mill is haunted there are also some scary moments, though nothing too terrifying! There's an interesting character in the Caretaker, and old man also living homeless next to the mill. I particularly enjoyed the moments in the story when the girl is people-watching, keeping an eye on the regulars who pass by, or watching other people's families, through their windows, across the canal. She's very perceptive, and I thought the range of characters introduced was very good. The language the author uses is also very descriptive. I enjoyed a moment when the girl has drawn a picture of a praying mantis and she says I breathe on the window and I can see my name in the breath that sticks to it. And the praying mantis looks just like the cranes that are leaning over the city. There's a swarm of cranes out there, crawling over the old buildings and eating their flesh, and the metal frames of new buildings are really the bones of the old ones picked bare.

The Irish accent was clear and strong throughout, with sprinklings of slang thrown in that are easily understandable, but make the language feel alive. The girl sounds and feels like a real girl, throughout the book, and it makes for some emotional reading at certain points of the story. I did wonder quite how the whole story could possibly end satisfactorily as I got closer and closer to the final pages. The end comes with a twist, which although I'd suspected, I hadn't been quite sure about. It's an interesting twist, though I have to admit that I had to re-read that section a couple of times before I was certain of what was going on. However, once I had figured it out, it made me want to re-read the book, to throw this new light upon everything that happened previously.

It's probably best aimed at those around 11 to 14, but I suspect strong younger readers could happily give it a try, and older teens would still find it a good, quick read. The chapters aren't too long, so it's easy to find yourself reading several in a go, and then, of course, wanting to read just one more...and one more again!

Further reading suggestion: For another homeless girl story try Invisible Girl by Kate Maryon or this is a story that deals sensitively with depression A Library of Lemons by Jo Cotterill. We also have a review of The Words That Fly Between Us also by Sarah Carroll.

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Buy The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll at


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