My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose.
For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she shifts to her ‘other’ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she’s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she’s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.
With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments that bring her dangerously close to the life she’s always wanted. But if she can only have one life, which is the one she’ll choose?
A compelling psychological thriller about a girl who lives two parallel lives – this is Sliding Doors for the YA audience. – From the synopsis on the Goodreads page for Between the Lives
So I borrowed this book from my local library. I was immediately drawn to it, the storyline seemed so interesting and I was desperate to start reading it after having been in a reading slump on holiday, with only access to Kindle books. I wanted a physical book to read as I found the adjustment to electronic books quite challenging, and have that effortless ease of reading when I can hold that book in my hands and flip the pages.
Oh my goodness – this book brought everything, the feels, the heartbreak, the hope and the hunger for more. I devoured the majority of this in one night, one broken, beautiful night reading in bed, the tears simply pouring from my eyes, me sobbing and shaking, so overcome with blatant emotion. At several points, I was so hysterical I almost woke up my parents. I suggest anyone about to read this book listen to Coldplay’s album X&Y whilst you read it, in particularly those last chapters. I promise it adds to the story and the reading experience, and the lyrics and music beautifully suit the plot line and the atmosphere that the writer has so cleverly weaved.
This book really compelled me to think about life and in particular, how Ethan used his life (view spoiler) to try and get Sabine to appreciate the two that she had, that she didn’t have to make a choice, because he himself wanted the chance to live.
I want to talk about the character of Sabine. She felt that she could never truly be open with people because of who she was: a girl who lived two lives. If anyone even tried to look inside of her, she felt, they would pass her off as being mentally unstable. Hence why she experiments to see if she can try and become only one of her two beings.
A dramatic turn of events means she is suddenly sure that she wants to be the girl with the perfect life, Sabine of Wellesley. That is, until she meets Ethan – the perfect love. The only problem is, he exists in the life she had decided she wanted to leave behind. Ethan makes Sabine feel like she has never felt before – loved and cared for. She ends up confessing her secret to Ethan, but is afraid he won’t believe her. In order to gain his trust, she is set a series of challenges to solve when she goes through ‘the Shift’ into Wellesbury, and then when Ethan sees her just after midnight, for her to answer them.
I thought the idea was an excellent touch – I think it really helped to cement the two halves of Sabine that she could never quite make a whole. (view spoiler)
Next, I want to talk about the character of Ethan. I think I fell just as hard as Sabine fell for him – he was exactly the kind of person who makes for the ‘perfect love’. I like how he said he didn’t have any types, just felt that there was the one person, and he would know who that was. (view spoiler)
What we, Sabine and the reader, don’t realise, is the secret that Ethan is harboring, the demons he is fighting by himself. As Sabine said, she thought she was the one struggling alone to cope, feeling terrible without Ethan by her side when he failed to show up. (view spoiler)
I love how Sabine took this wildly unexpected conclusion (view spoiler) as a lesson for her to become more aware of what was happening around her. Whilst trying to cope with her own problems, she had no idea that (view spoiler) However, these things could have been spotted if she had maybe opened her eyes to why Ethan was getting (view spoiler), why Dex kept hinting towards them finally (view spoiler)
Some readers may have been angry with Ethan for keeping (view spoiler) a secret from the woman he loved, but I completely understand why he did it. Sabine was vulnerable and he did not want to influence the all-important decision, especially not if it was for him, as he explains in his letter. “Not me.” He says. You can feel her heart shatter as he says that. “He doesn’t feel the same way.” She thinks. Little does she know that his heart shattered too, knowing that he can’t have a life with her.
This is getting pretty long, so I think I want to wrap it up!
The last thing I want to talk about is the letter. Ethan’s letter was so heartbreakingly amazing, and so thoughtfully written, which reflected the personality of the character very well. I’m so glad that Ethan got the chance to explain his reasons, to get across to Sabine that he did truly love and believe her, and most of all that he was so so sorry. (view spoiler) The letter was such a tearjerker that I’m astonished I didn’t get tears all over the pages. I’m so glad that he managed to get his message through to her (view spoiler) Indeed, he had found her between the lives.
So, in conclusion, this book is really thought provoking and heartbreaking; makes you feel more aware of the dangers of self-pity; makes you want to cling onto and embrace life – but most importantly, this book lets you know you are blessed. You are one of the lucky ones who are still here, no matter what is wrong in your life, you are so loved and so blessed. It teaches you that you have to pull through in life for the people who would give anything to hang onto it. That there is a reason to live.
I’m going to end with one of my favourite quotes from the book:
“Some things are so real you can feel them to your core. It doesn’t matter where you go, they go with you. Anywhere.” Ethan – Between the Lives