The Space Between by Meg Grehan

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The Space Between by Meg Grehan

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Very unusual, raw, sensitive and honest. If you enjoy, or even just tolerate, free verse then you should definitely give this beautiful book a try.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 182 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Little Island Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781910411599

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The Space Between tells the story of Beth, over the course of a year. We see Beth dealing with her mental illness, locked away in her own, personal 'safe' world where she feels she can maintain her happiness by remaining isolated. Mouse the dog, however, has other ideas about this! With the entrance of Mouse into her life there comes, also, Alice and slowly Alice brings both light and love to Beth's world.

I have a colleague who declared just today that basically, nobody likes poetry! I disagreed with this statement, but I must admit I wasn't entirely sure how I would feel about reading this book. Although there are many books of poetry that I enjoy, I've never read a novel written entirely in free verse before, and I did feel a little trepidation as I began. However, it gave me such an immediately intimate feeling, almost like I was snooping on Beth's personal life, that I found that I was caught up in the book straight away, and rather than being a struggle (as I admit some wordy poetry can be) this felt instead like a pleasure, with the words drifting and rising, ringing and singing, and creating pictures and feelings as I found myself completely tied up in Beth's world.

The style of the writing sits perfectly with the state of Beth's mind, and the ebb and flow of the text, the repetitions, and even the layout of the words on the page all combined to make it a beautiful reading experience. I liked Beth as a character very much, and I felt a great deal of empathy towards her, in her escape from the world into books and routine and isolation, even without knowing what had triggered it. I also really loved Mouse, the dog, who comes along one day to interrupt Beth's solitude requesting that Beth throw the ball. The pleasure that Beth and Mouse enjoy in such a simple game is lovely to read. With Mouse comes Alice, Mouse's owner, and she and Beth tentatively start to become friends, with Alice gently understanding and respecting Beth's situation intuitively.

The story portrays Beth's depression and anxiety effectively, with a range of words and expressions and feelings including three whole pages of just shut up repeated over and over which I found very emotional to read. Yet the sadness and the desperation of the book start to ease as Beth's friendship with Alice grows and it becomes a love story, showing both how Beth falls in love with Alice and also how Alice, with infinite patience, loves Beth in return. There is some sexual content, so this is for older teens, but it is sensitively written.

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book. If you are one of the supposed multitude who doesn't do poetry then it's probably not for you, but as a teen I would have loved it (being a closet melodramatic poet during those years). Sensitively and beautifully written, this is highly recommended.

Further reading suggestion: You might also like to read We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan and Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven.

Buy The Space Between by Meg Grehan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Space Between by Meg Grehan at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Space Between by Meg Grehan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Space Between by Meg Grehan at Amazon.com.


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