The first thing that struck me about In Between was the careful treatment of the characters. No one is a one-dimensional stand-in for a real person.
There’s Katie Parker, the self-resigned “trouble teen” who finds herself shuttled to a “good” foster family. But even though no one’s bothered to explain to her about clustering behaviors, her choices are both consistent with her background and throughly logical in her own mind. She makes mistakes, but I never felt like she was acting frustratingly, unrealistically stupid. She also demonstrates a desire to change – to not be the “trouble kid” – that allows for a gentle, believable arc.
Her pastor-church secretary foster parents aren’t gold star molds, nor naive judgmental prudes. They have their own struggles and weaknesses (that differ from each other) and everyone from the future-valadictorian “churchie kid” to the mohawk-wearing “bad girl” have elements that break them out of the stereotypes and bring them to life.
While I think first-person present tense can be overdone, Katie has an engaging voice as she discusses her hidden thoughts and fears. She is a little free in mentioning her, um, femininity, so there are some issues discussed that, shall we say, my brother wouldn’t get. Nothing, however, is obscene – this is a Christian novel.
I thought Christian faith was handled respectfully. Katie’s foster dad is a paster, and she moves gradually from weirded out to accepting of their faith and their God – even if she isn’t ready to take the plunge herself. Ms. Jones felt very effective in portraying the “hip/casual” type of worship and teaching that many modern churches use to try to reach the youth, and even though my own church experience was very different it was interesting to watch Katie react to this new “church” culture.
If you’re worried that it was all a philosophical experiment, there’s also a crazy grandma. As in breaks-the-speed-limit-on-her-bicycle, wears-a-pink-helmet-and-two-piece-swimsuit foster grandma. She puts the “ow” in “small town” for her family, and keeps life lively for her neighbors (and Katie).
I was a little concerned about how the story would finish its portrayal of the characters’ faith in God – something as complex and nuanced as any other relationship in our lives. I think it is best expressed that the ending is “perfectly imperfect”, without unbelievable bow-tying, yet with a very satisfying sense of closure.
Definitely worth the time.
You can find In Between, and other books about Katie Parker, right HERE. The author’s website is JennyBJones.com (here). The ebook version of In Between is always free. I was not required to write a review for my copy, positive or otherwise.
Note: This ebook file contains Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. Although intended to protect authors’ intellectual property, it frustrated me as I tried to conveniently read this book (meaning the copy I owned). To read a fuller discussion of DRM and how it hurts readers, check out Calibre’s page explaining DRM.