Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

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Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Sabine lives two lives. Literally. Each night, she shifts from one to the other. But which is best? Interesting premise, right? And on the whole it's carried off pretty well, with some added romantic flavour in the mix. We enjoyed this story, even if we did have to suspend belief once or twice.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Orchard
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 140833173X

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Sabine lives two lives. Literally. Each night, at midnight, she shifts from one self to another. Time resets too; Sabine may be a teenager to her families and friends but in reality, she has thirty-odd years-worth of life experience. It's a stressful existence: the shift itself is frightening and painful, and Sabine must be careful to behave appropriately in each environment. And her lives are very different. In Wellesley, Sabine is wealthy and popular with two brothers and a boyfriend other girls are jealous of. In Roxbury, she has one sister, parents whose business is struggling, and a reputation for rebelliousness.

Sabine wants nothing more but to live one life. Just one. And it seems like a pipe dream until one day there's a glitch. Sabine's broken arm in Roxbury doesn't come with her to Wellesley. Could she choose? If she died in one life, would her other life carry on? Sabine embarks on a series of increasingly risky experiments to test her theory.

But, but, but. If she's right, which life should she choose?

I think the premise of Between the Lives is great. Who hasn't wondered what it would be like to lead a completely different life? But what if you did? And what if you had to choose between the two? What would be your most important considerations? And what about the potential of the life you chose to leave behind? How could you ever be sure that you made the right decision?

By and large, Shirvington deals with all this pretty well. Sabine is wealthy and popular in one life. In it, she even has the perfect boyfriend. But something is missing. It all feels too easy and superficial. She never feels quite engaged enough. On the surface, her other life seems much more problematic. There's no money. Her parents are inattentive. But it has some special people in it - a beloved little sister, a loyal friend, and boy who makes her heart swell. No life is perfect and, though Sabine, Shirvington shows us this very clearly indeed.

The romantic aspect of the book is handled pretty well - there's some genuine love and also one of those disastrous teen relationships that was entered into really only for peer approval. They never work out, do they?

It's tricky to create world like this without a single inconsistency or paradox and I won't lie to you - there are a few points in Between the Lives at which you will have to suspend credibility. You might even roll your eyes if you're particularly intolerant of such things. But they aren't many, and the bittersweet denouement made up for them in our eyes.

We enjoyed this fresh story and think you might, too.

If the premise of Between the Lives appeals, you could take a look at Split by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja.

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